Our opinion: Three tons of prevention

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The state's efforts to get unwanted prescription medications out of homes, and out of the reach of those who might be tempted to abuse it or steal them, seems to be paying off.

As week ago Saturday, the state observed National Prescription Drug Take Back Day by offering to collect unused, unwanted and expired medication for disposal. The service was offered at nearly 70 collection sites statewide.

According to a news release from Gov. Phil Scott's office, Vermonters turned in 6,562 pounds of collected prescription medications on April 27.

That's more than three tons of unwanted medication, and the most ever collected during a take-back event.

To put it another way: The unwanted prescriptions turned in by Vermonters weigh as much as a fully-grown hippopotamus, or a full-size pickup truck.

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Considering that Vermonters have brought back more than 6,000 pounds of unwanted medications in three of the past four takeback events, it seems the Green Mountain State's residents are getting the message about the smart way to dispose of meds.

"Preventing the distribution and misuse of unused prescription medication is essential as we continue to combat Vermont's opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement initiatives," Scott said in the release. "Thank you to all the Vermonters who continue to support the health and safety of their communities by participating in Take Back Day, and to the Departments of Health and Public Safety, local law enforcement and our federal partners for their coordinated collection efforts."

According to the media release from Scott's office, studies show between 42 percent and 71 percent of opioids prescribed to surgical patients go unused. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that most misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet.

So that's more than three tons of medicines securely transported out of state by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and incinerated, instead of being misused by Vermonters, or improperly disposed into the state's landfills or waterways.

The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 26. But you can always bring unused, unwanted and expired medication to a local police station or to a pharmacy equipped with a disposal box or kiosk. Locally, that includes eight Bennington County locations: the Bennington County Sheriff's office, the Bennington, Manchester and Winhall police stations, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, The Pharmacy's locations in Bennington and Manchester, and CVS in Bennington.

Or, you can request medication mail-back envelopes. Visit healthvermont.gov/drugtakeback or dial 211 for more information.


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