Drug Take Back Day this weekend

ALPENA — Disposing of unused or expired drugs helps to protect the environment, as well as out of the hands of children and others who could use them, local officials said.

On Saturday, the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office will be accepting unused medications as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The drugs will be collected and then picked up by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration so they can be disposed of in a safe manner.

Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski said there are several reasons why disposing of drugs in a responsible manner is important.

“Many people simply flush them down the toilet, which is not good, or throw them into the garbage and they end up in a landfill and that is not good for the environment,” he said.

He said unused antibiotics that are disposed of improperly also can become less tolerant to the bacteria they are prescribed to fight, making it more difficult for the medical community to treat illnesses.

Kieliszewski said the most important reason to get rid of old drugs is to make sure they don’t fall into the hands of someone who will use them illegally. He said people can become addicted to narcotics and it not only becomes an issue of public health, but a crime as well.

“This is one of the things we see all the time now are children and young adults experimenting with these types of drugs,” he said. “This has become an issue nationwide.”

Kieliszewski said no liquid medications will be accepted, nor will any needles or syringes. Inhalers will not be collected either.

Since July there have been 66 pounds of unused or expired drugs turned over to the office, Kieliszewski said. He said when the DEA picks up the medications they are put in an incinerator and burned.

There is no fee for this service and no questions will be asked about the drugs.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.