National Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 29. What this means for the Pondera County public is that another opportunity is being provided to dispose of your unused and expired prescription medications.
This Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Olson’s Drug, located at 5 4th Ave SE in Conrad, the Pondera County Sheriff’s Department and the Pondera County Health Department will be on hand to receive your unwanted medication.
This event highlights the current issue within the state that over 300 Montanans die yearly from misused prescription and non prescription drugs. According to the website InvisibleEpidemic.Org, “Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Prescription drug abuse is 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined”.
Additionally, Montana kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.
Disposing of unwanted medications is a good first step to reducing the problem. Pete McKeone, pharmacist and owner of Olson’s Drug in Conrad and host of the Saturday event, knows there is a need to call attention to these issues.
“We are frequently approached by people who have lost loved ones that have left medications or patients who have not needed all the prescribed pain pills following a minor surgery, and are unsure about what to do with these drugs.” While time honored, flushing these medications down the toilet may serve to contaminate water supplies, throwing prescription bottles in regular trash does not stop them from being removed from that garbage.
Operation Medicine Cabinet, as the event is sometimes called, encourages people to evaluate their own stores of medications and use the National Drug Take Back Events to help reduce the number of drugs available for misuse. The second event this year, in April the Olson Drug location garnered over 80 pounds of unwanted medication with the additional help of high school students Brittany Greyn and Erica Grubb.
Cynthia Grubb of the Health Department reminds people that this is also a good time to assist your elderly relative in evaluating their medicine cabinets. “Sometimes, pain meds may be stored for years after a surgery or illness and if it’s not needed, it’s dangerous.”
For more information about the prescription drug issue, go to www.doj.mt.gov/rxabuse and for more information about the local take back event, call the Pondera County Health Department at 271-3247.