PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – You probably have an old prescription or two lying around that you need to get rid of, so how can you get dispose of them properly?

April 26 is Drug Take Back Day and Dr. Neil Capretto, Medical Director at Gateway Rehabilitation, joined the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway to talk about why it is important that you properly dispose of any drugs.

“The center for disease control has declared prescription drug abuse a national epidemic,” Dr. Capretto said.

He stressed that people who need their medications should have them but, people who take drugs that aren’t prescribed to them are, “contributing to record number drug overdose deaths.”

The epidemic is so bad that Dr. Capretto says, “I know people that go to real estate open houses every Sunday just to search medicine cabinets to find [prescription] medicines.”

Dr. Capretto recommends that if you need your medications, that you lock them up. He recommends to lock them up the same way you would lock up a gun, “because the reality is these medicines are killing more people in our community every year than loaded guns and traffic fatalities put together.”

He says some of the most dangerous medicines that are often abused include: “The opioid pain medicines. Drugs like OxyContin, (which is Oxycodone), Hydrocodone, morphine, those types of medicines.”

If you want to get rid of your medicine why can’t you just flush them down the toilet or throw them in the garbage?

There is a possibility for environmental contamination if you throw your pills in the toilet, Dr. Capretto says.

“They are actually measuring amounts of [prescription medication] in our water system[s],” he said.

Some people are so desperate for drugs they will search garbage for bottles of old pills. Dr. Capretto says there is a threat that if they find an old bottle of pills you threw away in your garbage, they could also try to break into your home to find more of it.

Since launching the nationwide Drug Take-Back Day effort in 2010, the DEA has collected more than 3.4 million pounds (1,733 tons) of prescription medications.

For more information on local collections, visit PRC’s website here or call PRC at 412-488-7452.

For more information about Drug Take-Back Day, visit the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website at www.DEA.gov.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Listen to the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.

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