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April 2016 - Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Medicine Cabinet!

Bottle of Pills Do you have a ritual you observe at the first hint of spring? I do! I get out my golf clubs and hit the course. Once I finish playing my first eighteen holes, I know spring is here. Other people welcome spring by cleaning. If you do, make sure your medicine cabinet gets cleaned out, too. You could save a life.

Prescription medications are safe when used as prescribed by the person they were prescribed for. Too often, however, these drugs are misused.

  • Four out of five heroin users say their habit started by using prescription pain medicine recreationally.

  • Nearly half of the young people who inject heroin started out misusing prescription drugs.

  • Among kids as young as 12 to 13 years old, prescription medications are now the most commonly-abused drugs.


Scary statistics, aren’t they? Part of the problem is that heroin can be obtained at a fraction of the cost of prescription drugs, so after kids get hooked, they turn to a more easily-available alternative. Even more alarming is that this epidemic is attracting younger and younger kids all the time.

Drug abuse is not the only risk posed by expired or unused prescription drugs. We’ve all heard stories of accidental poisonings by so-called “safe” medications – toddlers who explore their surroundings by putting everything in their mouths; a person who “shares” a prescription with another, ignoring dosage directions; a person who “self-medicates” with disregard for the dangers of mixing drugs. Each scenario can have deadly consequences.

One way to prevent disaster is to safely dispose of medications you no longer need. To help with this, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from time to time organizes collection centers across the country for the anonymous and safe disposal of unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medication.

This year, April 30 is designated as “National Take Back Prescription Drugs Day.” DEA-authorized centers, often operated in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A list of nearby locations is available on the DEA website at

Be safe and enjoy the weather!

As published in the April 2016 issue of the "Clinton Township Newsletter."
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