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Event helps keep environment, people safe

Published: April 17, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 17, 2014) -- Some people might not realize the dangers of keeping old medications in the house or the danger of improperly disposing of them.

But the Fort Rucker Army Substance Abuse Program wants to help educate the public about the importance of disposing of old medicine and disposing of it properly, so it will participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take-Back Day April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the post exchange.

The program’s mission is to help prevent drug addiction, as well as provide a responsible and safe way for citizens to dispose of old or unwanted prescription drugs, said Jesse Hunt, ASAP prevention coordinator.

“This program is really simple,” said Hunt. “The individual will take their medication to the drop point. We’re trying to clean out the cabinets so that these unused prescription drugs don’t become an attractive item to those who may illegally use them.”

Last October, the DEA reportedly collected 324 tons of prescription medication in more than 5,683 locations across the U.S., with Fort Rucker, Daleville, Dothan and Enterprise collecting more than 640 pounds.

People can drop off their unused or unwanted medications in one of these other locations: Daleville Grocery Outlet parking lot, Enterprise police station’s hallway entrance, Ozark Wal-Mart parking lot and the Dothan police station’s walkway entrance.

“People need to know when to take their medications properly,” said Hunt. “They need to know where they are on the pain scale and decide if they really need that medication or not. And they need to throw out the medication once it has expired.”

After expiration, ingredients in the pills begin to break down and lose their potency, said Hunt. So, people might take more to feel the same effect, or one pill might have a terrible side effect.

“You can’t just throw these things in the trash either,” he said. “You shouldn’t dump it down the toilet or throw it in the trash because it’s unsafe for the environment, and (those with) prying eyes might dig it out. It gets into soil and ground water, which is harmful in a number of ways to us and the local ecosystem.”

The medications collected will be incinerated, and what cannot be incinerated will be properly disposed of in accordance with environmental law, he said.

Because police will be on hand at the drop points, some people may be hesitant when turning in their unused medications for fear of legal ramifications, but Hunt assures those wanting to participate that law enforcement is there only to make sure the medications are properly collected and disposed of.

“The pharmacy at Lyster has been very supportive and has provided an individual that will be out at the collection point on post, as well, to answer any questions that people might have about the medications,” he said.

Military police will not be checking people’s personal belongings or anything of that nature, he said, and it is even safe for people to turn in medication that has been obtained illegally, and he encourages people to do so.

“There is no paperwork that people need to fill out, they can just drop of their medications and be on their way,” said Hunt. “It takes less than five seconds. So why not participate? You will keep your old medications safe from prying eyes, keep yourself from taking old medication that might be harmful, as well as keep our environment a safe place.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/124285/

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