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Thiele: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Originally Posted: April 19, 2012

Sag Harbor - Every day, it seems like a new prescription drug is created to treat every type of ache, pain or ailment. This has left many households stockpiled with all kinds of medications, and some go unused or expire. But when we go to clean out our medicine cabinets, simply tossing them in the garbage or
flushing them down the toilet can actually cause more harm than we realize.

In an effort to provide a safer alternative for prescription drug disposal, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated April 28 as National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. In support of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, the Peconic Independent Pharmacy Association (PIPA), a group of independently owned pharmacies on the East End, will be collecting unwanted prescription drugs on Wednesday, April 25 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the following PIPA locations.

 • Barth's Pharmacy: 94 Montauk Highway. East Moriches

 • Barth's Drug Store: 32 East Main Street. Riverhead

 • Barth's Pharmacy: 58 Sunset Avenue, Westhampton Beach

 • Center Island Rx: 254 W. Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays

 • Liggett Drugs: 39 W. Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays

 • Martin Drugs: 849 Old Country Road (Rt. 58), Riverhead

 • Park Place Chemists: 200 Pantigo Place, Suite K, East Hampton

 • Sag Harbor Pharmacy: 120 Main Street, Sag Harbor

 • Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy: 19 Grand Avenue, Shelter Island Heights

 • Southold Pharmacy: 53895 Main Road, Southold

 • Southrifty Drug: 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village

 • White's Pharmacy East Hampton: 81 Main Street, East Hampton

Unused prescription drugs, if left in households or disposed of improperly, can pose serious health and public safety risks. In fact, over the past decade, prescription drug abuse has seen a dramatic increase.

Studies show that nearly 1.9 million people in the U.S. meet abuse or dependence criteria for prescription drugs. And since prescription drugs are sold legally, they often fall into the wrong hands.

Each day, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, and 60 percent of youths who used prescription pain relievers did so before the age of 15. Unfortunately, many teenagers believe prescription medications are safer than many illegal drugs, since they are prescribed by a doctor. This misconception is extremely dangerous, as abusing prescription drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, pain killers and sleeping aids can cause permanent damage or even death. Removing unused prescriptions from your home can help keep these drugs out of reach of children and young adults.

By safely disposing prescription drugs, we can also help preserve our environment. Many people believe that flushing unused medications down the toilet or drain is actually the responsible thing to do. Unfortunately, since many water treatment facilities are not equipped to properly filter prescription drugs from waste water, drugs often end up in our lakes and rivers.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) found low levels of drugs like antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80 percent of the rivers and streams tested. The presence of such drugs in our water negatively affects fish and wildlife, and concerns have been raised that drug-resistant bacteria may develop because of long-term exposure to low levels of antibiotics. These problems can be easily avoided by proper disposal of unused prescriptions.

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