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Sep 14, 2013 11:24 AM by Faye DeHoff

Get rid of old prescriptions safely this weekend

TUCSON - Last year the Pima County Sheriff's Department collected a total of 1,553 pounds of unused or expired prescription drugs.

This weekend, the department will be holding another Dispose-A-Med event. Why is proper disposal of these substances so important? There are several factors that should be taken into account.

1. Teenagers now abuse prescription drugs more than any other illegal drug except for marijuana. The majority of teens who abuse these drugs get them for free, usually from friends and relatives and often without their knowledge by raiding the medicine cabinet or by attending "pharming parties," where teens barter legal drugs and get high.

Storing unused or outdated prescriptions creates an opportunity for illicit use. One in five teens report intentionally misusing someone else's prescription drugs to get high.

2. Studies have shown that pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs are present in our nation's waterbodies and certain drugs may cause ecological harm.

3. Outdated or unusable drugs that are disposed of by flushing or pouring down a sink enter the environment because wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to remove them.

This Saturday a Dispose-A-Med event will be held at 2175 W. Ruthrauff Road (Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market) from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Prescription and over-the-counter tablets, capsules, liquids and creams will be collected. Metal or glass inhalation aerosol bottles, syringes and EpiPens will not be accepted. For safety and confidentiality reasons, any items turned over for collection cannot be returned. Drugs from commercial organizations will not be accepted. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

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