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Get rid of old drugs the right way

Today is a good day to clean out your medicine cabinet. That’s because tomorrow is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

We know properly disposing of unused prescription drugs doesn’t exactly sound like a thrilling way to spend your weekend. But it’s actually one of the easiest ways you can directly support your community’s efforts to end the current drug epidemic.

That’s because unused drugs don’t just sit on your bathroom shelf for years — they’re actually posing a risk the whole time they sit there: a risk that someone else will take them and start down a dangerous path.

“When you step back and look at some of the research, we also find that many people who struggle with addiction didn’t get those drugs from a drug dealer,” White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Senior Advisor Anne Hazlett said recently. “They got them from friends or family that had unused medication lying around in their homes.”

Drugs you don’t need shouldn’t be kept around. The best-case scenario is you eventually get rid of them anyway. The worst-case scenario is someone you love decides to take a risk (or even ingests your medicine by accident) and winds up needing a hospital visit, or worse: with an addiction that will cost them — and you — years of pain.

In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, most of them from using opioids. If the old medicines in your home include any opioids, it’s extra important that you participate tomorrow.

Why should you take the medicines back instead of throwing them out? Some medicines create problems if they’re flushed down the toilet; and you can’t throw medicine away in the trash safely without following several steps first.

According to the FDA, to properly dispose of old medicines in the trash, you should first mix them — without crushing them — with “an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter or used coffee grounds.” This mixture should then be placed in a sealed plastic bag and placed in your trash.

The FDA also warns you should black out all personal information on prescription bottles and packaging with a sharpie before throwing them away.

Or you could bring all your old medications to a local drop-off spot tomorrow and save yourself the headache.

There are two drop-off locations within 10 miles of Danville that will be accepting medications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow:

• the Danville Police Department at Danville City Hall, 445 W. Main St.; and

• The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, 844 S. College St., Harrodsburg.

If you can, please participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Then when someone asks you what you did over the weekend, you can respond, “I did my part to fight the drug epidemic. How about you?”