Drug take-back program a resounding success

A Saturday program to provide safe, no-questions-asked disposal for outdated or unwanted medications was wildly successful in Marquette County.

Area residents took advantage of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day as the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies served as drop-off sites. The success was measured by the pound.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Joe O’Hagan said the Negaunee post saw a steady stream of people from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. bringing in expired and unwanted medications and vitamins. It was O’Hagan’s fourth year assisting at the program – and he said it was the best year he’s seen.

“I don’t know how many people have been in today, but it’s been the best one since I’ve been doing it,” O’Hagan said. “There’s about 50 to 60 pounds (of pills) here, maybe more.” The Marquette City Police Department, which accepts medications year round, also joined in on the statewide drive. They collected approximately 30 pounds of pills Saturday.

The response to the program is a good sign. The number of dropped off drugs is up – and we don’t think it’s because there are necessarily more prescription drugs circulating in Superiorland. Rather, people are becoming more aware of the problems associated with stray prescription meds and taking responsibility for fixing them.

Leaving prescriptions medications around the house is fraught with problems:

  • Unused drugs stockpiled in a home can make them a target for theft
  • Unsued medications are also a target for abusers. More Americans abuse prescription drugs than use cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined, according to a 2010 survey. Police cite studies showing teens often abuse prescription drugs they take from the home medicine cabinet.
  • There’s also a significant environmental impact from unwanted drugs, which are often flushed down the toilet. According to a 2011 article in Scientific American magazine, sewage treatment plants and septic systems were never designed to deal with medications and researchers have found traces of pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supplies of some 40 million Americans. Possible health concerns include hormone disruption and antibiotic resistance. And some mdications may be altering the behavior and reproductive functions of fish.

So there are plenty of reasons to dispose of prescription drugs properly. We’re just glad Superiorland residents are realizing the risks and taking the opportunity to do it right.