There could be danger lurking in your medicine cabinet.

A survey shows that nearly 10 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs last year – and most of those drugs were obtained from family and friends, “often from the home medicine cabinet,” according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

You can help prevent drug addiction and eliminate the risk overdose deaths by simply cleaning out that medicine cabinet and turning in those unused drugs during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day next Saturday, Oct. 26. Cobb health care services and civic organizations will provide convenient drop-off places throughout the county and there will also be locations in nearby cities.

This Drug Take Back Day “addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue,” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says, citing the disturbing statistics on millions of abusers and addicts. Back to that medicine cabinet, too frequently the unused (and often forgotten) prescription drugs “find their way into the wrong hands.” That is dangerous and often tragic, resulting in devastation and death.

Scientific studies have pinpointed the problem, showing that between 67% and 92% of surgical patients reported “leftover” opioids with up to 71% of all tablets left unused. Likewise about three-quarters of the patients in the studies said their prescription opioids were not stored in locked containers. All the studies found low rates of anticipated or actual disposal of the unused prescription opioids, leaving them to sit in medicine cabinets or other unsecured places, “an important reservoir of opioids contributing to non-medical use of these products,” the researchers concluded.

The concept behind the Take Back Day is to make the process easy for disposing unused drugs as well as sharp items such as needles. And this can be done anonymously, no questions asked.

WellStar Health System has announced several drop-off locations between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. next Saturday: WellStar Health Parks at 4550 Cobb Parkway, Acworth; 3747 Roswell Road NE, Marietta; and 4441 Atlanta Road, Smyrna.

Drop-offs will also be accepted by the WellStar facilities at 1120 WellStar Way, Holly Springs, and 146 Bill Carruth Parkway, Hiram. Kennesaw State University is also participating and so is Roswell Recycling Center, 11570 Maxwell Road, Alpharetta, and the Douglasville Police Department & Municipal Court.

WellStar provides this guidance for the public: “Simply take your medications to one of the drop-off locations and receive a gift. Your efforts may ultimately save lives by removing expired and unused medications from your medicine cabinet. No need to leave your car with our convenient drive-thru disposal. No forms or ID required. Sharps, liquids and pills are accepted.

“For safety precautions: Please pack your medications separate from your sharp items (example: needles/lancets). Empty your medications out of the original containers and into a sealed plastic bag. Sharps should be delivered in a closed container such as plastic bottles, milk jugs or plastic needle disposal bins/boxes. No loose sharps will be accepted. “ A bonus is being offered by WellStar: Flu shots will be available inside the WellStar Acworth, Cherokee, East Cobb and Vinings Health Parks to all adults and children age 13 and older.

The Acworth Police and the DEA will also be collecting potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction on Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Walmart, 3826 Cobb Parkway in Acworth.

The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Acworth Police also accepts expired or unused prescription drugs year-round at a permanent collection box at the police department.

The Acworth P.D. will not accept needles/sharps, syringes, thermometers, IV bags, bloody or infectious waste, personal care products, empty containers, inhalers and/or medical equipment.

And Kiwanis and Rotary clubs across Cobb are joining to have an internal drop-off day earlier in the week at a joint meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta and the Marietta Rotary Club Thursday at the Hilton Atlanta-Marietta Conference Center. A proper disposal receptacle will be on site.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is an opportunity to help curb the epidemic of drug abuse and addiction. The bottom line: Getting rid of unused drugs, especially prescription opioids, can mean the difference between life and death.

So check your medicine cabinet, pack up the unused drugs and drop them off at one of the many locations in Cobb and nearby cities next Saturday, Oct. 26 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You could save a family member or friend from addiction or even death.

J.K. Murphy is vice president of content and managing editor of the Marietta Daily Journal. Email him at jkmurphy@mdjonline.com.

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