Egremont — Since President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency on Aug. 10, public attention has again turned to managing our medicine chests and making sure unauthorized users or children don’t get to some of the prescription drugs inside them.
The main advice is to take them to the police where they end up being incinerated.
To publicize that practice, the Drug Enforcement Agency ran its 13th national take-back day this past April, with 4,223 law enforcement entities participating,155 of them in Massachusetts, according to their website.
In our area, however, many people are already in the habit of taking their old prescription drugs, as well as veterinary drugs, to the police.
The Great Barrington police estimate that three to five people a day drop off old meds at their take-back receptacle, which is the size and shape of a mailbox and sits to the right of the window at the police desk.
At the Egremont police station, the authorities say that, each week, about three to five people drop off materials in the box there, which is right inside the front door.
If at all possible, avoid flushing old meds down a drain. When pharmaceuticals dissolve, their particulates are often so fine that they evade filtration systems. The level of antidepressants found in fish tested from the Hudson River points to a serious problem. Pharmaceuticals entering our groundwater and waste-treatment plants end up in wells, water facilities, lakes, streams and the ocean. In general, it’s best not to do this.
On the other hand, the FDA does recommend flushing some drugs, most of which are so dangerous, possibly fatal if a single dose is taken by the wrong person, that the FDA wants them to disappear immediately when no longer needed. Check the list or ask your doctor. If you were taking one of these and can’t get to the police station right away, it’s OK to flush.
For those who don’t have access to a local take-back program and must dispose of the drugs on their own, the best advice is to mix them with something inedible such as kitty litter. Bag it and put it in the trash.
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