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Drop off unused prescription medications

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By Eric Stevick
Herald Writer
Published:
It's a simple step to make life a little safer at home.
People can drop off unused prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers, at several locations around Snohomish and Island counties on Saturday.
The event is part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's National Drug Take-back Day.
Since December 2009, police stations have collected nearly 6,300 pounds of unwanted medications in Snohomish County.
Organizers say the take-back program keeps medications out of the waste stream and away from people, including teenagers, who might abuse them.
"We have people coming in with medications they have had sitting there for 10 and 15 years," said Jonelle Fenton-Wallace of the environmental health department of the Snohomish Health District.
Dr. Gary Goldbaum, the health district director, said unintentional poisonings frequently involve prescription drugs. The take-back program helps prevent that, he said.
More than 1 in 10 high school sophomores said in a survey that they used pain relievers to get high in the previous month, the health district reported. It also found that more people die from unintentional poisoning than in motor vehicle crashes in Snohomish County.
In 2007 unintentional poisoning caused 98 deaths here, a rate of 14 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, motor vehicle crashes caused 59 deaths, or 9 deaths per 100,000. Most of the unintentional poisoning deaths involved abuse of prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, officials said.
Many police departments, including Edmonds, have year-round drug collection boxes for weekday disposal.
"The idea behind the national day is to bring awareness to it," Edmonds police Sgt. Mike Blackburn said. "If those drugs are no longer needed, it's far safer to dispose of them in a drug box where they know they will be incinerator."
To look for times and locations to drop off medications on Saturday, go to www.dea.gov.
People also can go to tinyurl.com/SnoCoTakeItBack for a complete list of county locations and acceptable materials. Another option is to call 425-388-3199 to hear a recorded list.
In addition several police stations, two Group Health sites and many Bartell drugstores in Snohomish County also currently take back unwanted medicines. However, they cannot take back controlled substances. All sites will accept unwanted vitamins, pet medications, over-the-counter medications, inhalers and unopened EpiPens.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » Accidents (general)MedicinesPreventative medicine

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