Initiative to aid in disposal of unwanted prescription meds

Residents with expired or unused prescription medications may turn them in Saturday at the Maui Police Department in Wailuku in the sixth National Take-Back Initiative.

The event that runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the station at 55 Mahalani St. is sponsored by the state Department of the Attorney General with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the state Narcotics Enforcement Division.

This service is free and anonymous with no questions asked. Tablets, capsules and all other solid dosage forms of medication will be accepted.

The goal of the program is to safely dispose of medications and to prevent prescription drug abuse, the news release about the event said.

According to the Hawaii Youth Risk Behaviors, Hawaii School Health Survey, 14.3 percent of high school students took prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

People over age 65 also are at risk for prescription drug abuse, the news release said. Americans age 65 and older make up 13 percent of the population but consume about one-third of all prescription drugs. This group also takes more potentially addictive medication than any other age group.

Two types of prescription drugs with the potential for addiction by seniors are opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines.

Unused or expired medicine should be disposed of properly when it is no longer needed for the illness for which it was prescribed, the news release said. Medicines may lose their effectiveness after the expiration date, and improper use of prescription drugs can be as dangerous as illegal drug use.

Having the medication around the home also increases the risk of accidental poisoning by children and of mistaking one type of medicine for another type.

Unused or expired medicine should not be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet. Proper disposal helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering the water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.

Since September 2010, Hawaii, together with Guam and Northern Marianas Islands, have collected more than 8,000 pounds of expired and unused prescription medications.

On the most recent national Take-Back day on Sept. 29, 244 tons of prescription medication were turned in at the 5,263 Take-Back sites in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.

For more information, go to the website or call (808) 541-1930.