Dump those outdated prescription drugs

Disposal prevents unintended effects, abuse

(CNN) - Do a quick inventory of your medicine cabinet. How many unused prescription pills are hanging out there? If you are like many Americans, your answer is probably:

"Twenty hydrocodone left over from getting my wisdom teeth pulled last year," or

"Fifteen oxycodone left over from the C-section when my son was born."

An estimated 200 million pounds of unused prescriptions are gathering dust in American medicine cabinets, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association. The problem is, those innocuous-seeming leftovers can end up in the wrong hands and, in extreme cases, lead to an overdose.

"The number one source of drugs that teenagers abuse is their own home medicine cabinet," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of Partnership for a Drug-free America. "Kids tell us in surveys that there is enough supply at home, at grandma's house, that they don't have to buy them."

If free and easily-accessed prescription drugs for teens goes against your household rules, you may be interested in the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Pharmaceutical "Take-Back Day" from 10 a.m. -- 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The idea behind "Take-Back" is to provide a free, no-questions-asked way to dispose of your old prescriptions. The drugs are incinerated so that they do not end up in dumps or the water supply.

"Round up all that stuff and dispose of it," said Pasierb. "Kids wouldn't (abuse prescription drugs) if they weren't still sitting in the bathroom cabinet."

For information about the prescription drug abuse problem or to find one of over 5,000 take-back locations nationwide, visit the Medicine Abuse Project website.

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