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Dozens of prescription medicine bottles in a jumble. This collection of pill bottles is symbolic of the many medications senior adults and chronically ill people take.

ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala. – This week marks the beginning of Red Ribbon Week. This week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention awareness program and will run from Oct. 23 – 31. Now is the ideal time to raise attention about all aspects of drug awareness including the proper disposal of unwanted drugs.

Every day, many people improperly dispose of unused pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). Often, these products make their way into the environment by way of sewer systems or landfills. When PPCPs travel through sewer systems and arrive at wastewater treatment facilities, these facilities are not equipped to completely remove them from the water. This leads to many of the compounds being left in the treated water, which cycles back into drinking water.

“Humans need to take an active role in eliminating PPCPs from the environment since we are mainly responsible for their existence,” said Karnita Garner, an Alabama Extension environmental specialist. “One way to do that is to use prescription drop boxes.”

Properly Dispose of Unwanted Drugs

Prescription drop boxes are one of the best ways to eliminate unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs. To see if there is a prescription drop box in your area, contact your local police department or a local pharmacy.

“Make sure all medication labels have been removed from pill bottles or containers before bringing them to a drop-off location,” Garner said.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has national drug take back days that occur on the fourth Saturday in April and October each year. During these days, many communities and businesses establish collection sites for people to bring these unwanted drugs. The next drug take back day coincides with Red Ribbon Week and is Oct. 26. To find a collection site near you, or for more information on drug take back days, visit the Take Back Day website.

For more information about Urban Extension environmental programs, contact Garner at (256) 372-8331.

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