GUEST OP-ED: Proper disposal keeps drugs out of our environment, water supply

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April 28 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

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.

The dangers of these unused drugs are grave. Prescription drug abuse is one of the most significant threats to young people in our community, and is a problem against which we need to be increasingly vigilant. At the same time, as we go to clean out our medicine cabinets, simply tossing these drugs 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 scheduled National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day for April 28. On that day, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Brooklyn families are encouraged to dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs safely to keep them away from our drinking water and landfills, and out of children’s hands.

For the residents of our community, there will be several locations available to turn in these medicines safely, including the 68th Precinct at 333 65th Street, Fort Hamilton Army Base and the 61st Precinct at 2575 Coney Island Avenue.

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; 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 death. Removing unused prescriptions from your home is the first step in keeping these drugs out of reach of children and young adults.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing issue in this community and throughout the country, especially among our children. Safely disposing of prescription drugs is just one way that we can fight back against this trend and work towards keeping our neighborhood and our families safe.

Together, we need to continue the fight against prescription drug abuse, both by keeping these drugs out of children’s hands and also by raising awareness about their dangers. So please join me in making Brooklyn safer on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

As always, if you want more information about this or any other important community issue, please contact either of my district offices at 718-232-6125 or 718-236-1764.

Peter Abbate represents the 49th A.D.

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