Earlier this month, the Group for the East End, a non-profit that partnered with local police departments to create the East End Medical Disposal Program, reported that the effort has resulted in the collection of more than 4,000 pounds of prescription medications since its launch in 2013. A similar program, Operation Big Red Medical Disposal Box, operated by the non-profit Lloyd Magothy Water Trust Inc., has collected over 5,000 pounds of medications with drop-off locations at pharmacies across Long Island, including the Sag Harbor Pharmacy on Main Street.
The success of both of these programs is laudable on a number of fronts.
A 2002 study found low, but measurable, concentrations of a number of pharmaceutical drugs in Suffolk County’s groundwater, a result of the common practice of flushing old drugs down the toilet — and straight into the water supply. Removing more than 9,000 pounds of drugs over the last four years from that equation is a significant step in the right direction for those concerned about the environment and public health.
Given the local, and national, opioid abuse epidemic, the program will likely also serve as an important layer of prevention. As teens fall into the trap of experimentation, often one of the first places they will look is the family medicine cabinet, where a bottle of leftover prescription pain relievers may prove deadly in the long run. Prescription drugs should be disposed of immediately at one of these easily accessible locations, and if you have children, kept in secure locations when they are needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.