Raising awareness of drug disposal, abuse

BIG RAPIDS — Most everyone has taken medication at some point in their lives, however not everyone knows what to do with leftover drugs.

Kim Livingston, prevention coordinator at Ten Sixteen Recovery Network, will discuss preventative prescription drug abuse and proper disposal of medications at Senior Enrichment Day, a one-day conference for older adults, which takes place on Wednesday, June 25, at Big Rapids High School.

“We know that most teens who are abusing prescription drugs are getting them from their house, their grandparents’ house or other family’s houses,” Livingston said. “Grandparents are prime targets. They have a lot of medications at home, sometimes things that they are not even aware they still have because they have saved it ‘just in case.’”

The workshop, titled “Don’t Flush Those Drugs,” will focus on three concepts of preventing prescription drug abuse: monitoring their use, keeping them in a secure location and disposing of them properly.

“We are encouraging people not to flush medications because if you live in town, the sewer system is not designed to handle pharmaceuticals; it is designed to handle waste,” Livingston said. “Many of these medications are going right through the sewer system and we can find trace amounts of antibiotics in our drinking water.”

Prescription medication disposal sites at each of the law enforcement agencies in Big Rapids. People are advised to black out their personal information or peel the label off of the bottle before dropping drugs at disposal sites.

Since September 2010, Mecosta and Osceola counties have properly disposed of more than 1,800 prescriptions, protecting both youth and the environment.

“Many teens believe that prescription drugs are not as dangerous as street drugs because they are made by doctors, but they are just as dangerous,” Livingston said. “They can cause addictions, they can cause overdoses and they can cause death.”