‘Drug Take Back’ on Saturday for Whidbey Island law enforcement

There is more than one reason to hand over unused and expired prescriptions to law enforcement agencies this Saturday.

Oak Harbor Police, the Island County Sheriff’s Office and the Coupeville Marshal’s Office are holding their sixth, “Drug Take Back.”

The goal of the program is to get unwanted medicine out of people’s homes in order to prevent accidental poisonings, drug abuse and drug-seeking burglaries.

Safe disposal also keeps hazardous medicines from polluting the environment.

While it may seem a good idea to flush unused medications, drugs flushed into a septic system can eventually end up in the island’s ground water, according to Keith Higman, public health director for Island County.

Approximately 70 percent of Island County uses septic systems and relies on groundwater, so flushing medications can have long-term and detrimental effects.

“We ought not put anything in our sewer systems that may be toxic,” Higman said.

In addition, medications that are simply thrown in the trash or kept around the house can end up in the wrong hands, Higman said.

Those hands could be a drug seeking criminal element, or family and friends of the prescription’s owner.

“There is an abundance of prescription medication abuse in both adults and youth,” Higman said. “If narcotics are part of what we collect, it’s getting them out of the stream of potential use by adults and youth.”

Higman said that studies conducted on sixth through 12th graders indicate that prescription drug use is very common because they are “easy to access.”

Residents may drop off any and all medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Oak Harbor Police Department on Barrington Avenue, the Town Marshall’s Office on Seventh Street in Coupeville and the South Precinct on East Harbor Road, Freeland.

Hundreds of pounds of pills from Whidbey residents have been collected and sent to the Drug Enforcement Agency in Spokane for incineration at previous events.

Last year, one cancer patient’s family brought in seven pounds of medication for disposal last year, and other man surrendered a bag full of pills dating from the 1960s.


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