Here’s your chance to safely dispose of prescription drugs

EVERETT — Temptation lurks behind the mirror above the bathroom sink.

A doctor prescribed the pills for a long-gone malady.

Yet, month after month, the bottle sits on a shelf above the shaving cream and beneath the dental floss.

Eventually, someone — a spouse, a son, a daughter, a sister, a brother — goes snooping, opens the medicine cabinet and pockets some pills.

And so it begins.

The abuse of prescription drugs, such as oxycodone, often is the starting point to heroin addiction. Opioid prescription painkillers have the same effect as heroin on the brain and body.

“Many of today’s heroin addicts started with prescription drug abuse,” said Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force Cmdr. Pat Slack.

Saturday is Drug Take-Back Day, part of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration and local campaign to empty homes of unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

The goal is to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs.

That means not flushing them down the toilet, where they can harm fish and the environment. And tossing them into the trash is illegal, said Heather Thomas, a Snohomish Health District spokeswoman.

An estimated 9.7 million prescriptions were filled in Snohomish County in 2014 and there were some 13 million over-the-counter medication purchases, according to the health district.

About a third of the medications sold to the public go unused.

In 2015, more than four tons of unwanted medications were collected as part of the Drug Take Back Program in Snohomish County alone.

Saturday’s event is an effort to emphasize the danger, but prescription drugs also can be dropped off at most police stations year round during weekday business hours.

The amount of discarded medicines seems to grow each year, Slack said.

While organizers monitor how much is turned in, they don’t count or identify those bringing in the drugs. The service is free, no questions asked.

“Anonymity is crucial to the success of the program,” Slack said.

There will be 89 collection sites across the state that will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

In Snohomish County, locations include sheriff’s office precincts in Mill Creek, Marysville and Sultan. Collection sites also are available at Granite Falls, Edmonds, Lynnwood and Lake Stevens police departments, as well as some police departments in Island County.

To learn about other potential sites, go to the Drug Enforcement Administration website at http://www.dea.gov.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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