The convenient solution to ridding your home of unwanted prescription medications has been to throw them away or flush them down the drain.  However, you may not realize this contributes to much bigger problems – putting drugs on the streets or contaminating our groundwater.

For 72-year-old Copiague resident Leona McQueen disposing of her unneeded or expired prescription medication in the trash was the norm, until she realized that these drugs could end up in the hands of drug users, sellers, or worse yet, innocent children.

Once educated about the risks of disposing drugs safely, McQueen now disposes of her unused medications at the Tanner Park Senior Center, during the National Drug Take-Back Day, hosted by the Suffolk County Police Department.

The use and abuse of over-the-counter medication is unfortunately not an unfamiliar tale to families on Long Island.  The Suffolk County Police Department coordinated this event and others in order to persuade citizens to dispose of their unused medications responsibly, to keep them out of the wrong hands – children in particular.

“The number one source of drugs for children and young adults are those they get out of the medicine cabinet of parents’ or friends’ homes,”
says Officers of Drug Prevention and Control.

SONY DSCIn order to alleviate the probability of individuals who would flush their unused medications and pills down the toilet, scientists have discovered and made the public aware that this is the wrong thing to do. This method of disposing of drugs has a highly negative impact on our groundwater supply. In fact, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, reports that as of 2006, 40% of groundwater samples collected in Suffolk County had increased levels of narcotic pharmaceuticals present.

Unfortunately, the general public isn’t well informed as to how detrimental flushed medications are to our groundwater supply. National Drug Take-Back Day serves as both education and a reminder of the proper way to dispose of medications.  We rely upon our readers to help spread the word.

The 3-hour Tanner Park event collected three 30-gallon trash bags of properly disposed drugs. This event helps keep drugs off the streets. There will be more opportunities throughout the year for community members to safely dispose of their prescription drugs and there are drop-off locations across Long Island.   To find a prescription medication drop-off near you, please visit citizenscampaign.org.