Editorial: Clear out the cabinets

It’s time to do some spring cleaning. Unused and expired prescriptions can be found buried in the back of the medicine cabinets, tossed into nightstand drawers and rattling around in the bottom of purses. Clearing out the clutter ensures drugs intended to help don’t ultimately cause harm. 

Forgotten drugs could be accidentally ingested by children or pets, abused by friends or family members or stolen. The best way to dispose of most types of prescription medicines is to drop them off at a drug takeback site immediately. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, set for this Saturday, makes it easy. 

The event aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. 

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a collection event on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. next to the former Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce Building on High Street in Ellsworth. No liquids or needles will be accepted. 

At the Mount Desert and Bar Harbor police departments, both lobbies will be open so anyone who wants to drop medications off can do so at any time that day – or any day. There is a drop box available 24/7.  

The Southwest Harbor, Ellsworth and Bucksport police departments and the Sheriff’s Office are also drop-off locations.  

On Friday, April 23, there will be an organized drop-off from 9 a.m. to noon at the Island Medical Center in Stonington.  

Most events were canceled last year due to the pandemic, but in any given year, some 900 to 1,200 pounds of medications are collected countywide. For those living in an outlying area or who don’t drive, give the sheriff’s office a call and arrange for pick up. Family members clearing out a home after a loved one’s death are often uncertain what to do with medications they find. Hopefully, this will ease some of that burden. 

Sharp materials, such as syringes, pen needles and lancets, may be disposed of in the trashwith precautions, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. You can place sharp items in a heavy, puncture-proof plastic bottle, such as an empty laundry detergent bottle. When it’s full, seal the bottle with the cap and heavy-duty tape. Label “Do Not Recycle” and place in the trash. Or you can purchase an FDA-approved sharps disposal container. 

Let’s all do our part to make our homes and communities safer. Properly dispose of old medications.  

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