Medicine disposal is important for family safety

July 20, 2010

By Paige Collins

Improper disposal of prescription medication can lead to poisoning, drug abuse and harm to the environment. To remedy this, the Issaquah Police Department is working with the community to establish a prescription drug disposal program that is easy to use and effective.

“A leading cause of prescription drug abuse is the ease of obtaining unused prescriptions from family members and friends,” Issaquah Police Department Chief Paul Ayers said. “Properly disposing of these drugs eliminates the opportunity to take and misuse the prescription drugs. “

As years go by, illnesses come and go and it is easy to let medicine cabinets fill to the brim with leftover or expired prescription drugs. This habit is not in families’ best interest, however, as a child or adult who’s ill can easily misuse abandoned drugs in the cabinet.

Poisoning is the first leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in Washington state, according to 2006 data from the state Department of Health. These are not only adult poisonings. Children under 6 took up more than half, 36,770, of exposure calls to the Washington Poison Center in 2003.Besides the threat of accidental poisoning, storage of unused prescription drugs allows for easy access to drug abuse. In a 2005 study, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse recognized an increase in abuse of controlled prescription drugs from 7.8 million in 1992 to 15.1 million in 2003. A large number of these users are reported to be teens.

The easiest way to avoid all of these problems is to properly dispose of leftover prescription medication, either at a pharmacy or the police department drop-off.

Placing unused medicines in the trash still leaves room for pets and children to find them, and flushing them down the toilet risks contaminating the water supply, according to the medicine return organization website.

Instead, uncontrolled prescriptions can be returned to the Issaquah Bartell Drugs, 5700 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway, and both controlled and uncontrolled can be taken to the Issaquah Police Department, 130 E. Sunset Way. Controlled substances are those with a high potential for abuse, such as valium, ritalin, morphine, and oxycodone.

The police department accepts leftover medication, both prescription and over-the-counter, from Issaquah residents who provide proof of residency. They can be brought to the station from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The medications must be in the original container, with all medication information legible. Personal information may be removed.

For a full list of return locations and what can and cannot be returned, go to

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