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Our Opinion: Dispose of unused meds

Everyone can take a small step this week to help prevent drug abuse.

We encourage our readers to take part this Saturday in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which will bring together more than 90 law enforcement agencies to collect unwanted painkillers and other medications at 114 locations.

When people think of drug abuse, street-bought drugs typically come to mind, but it’s easy to overlook what may be sitting in their medicine cabinets — from painkillers to other prescription drugs.

That’s why Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is encouraging Minnesotans to take part Saturday in disposing of unused medication.

As reported by Minnesota Public Radio, Swanson said nearly 80 percent of people who misuse opioids get them from friends and family members.

The drug disposal comes as the state grapples with its highest number of opioid-abuse related deaths: In 2015, at least 338 people in Minnesota died after taking opioids — and that figure has climbed steadily since 1999, according to MPR.

Prescription painkillers accounted for more than 15,000 deaths in the United States — more than 40 a day — in 2015, according to Dose of Reality, a group raising awareness on painkiller abuse.

Safe disposal of medications has many benefits. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency warns that flushing unwanted medicines down toilets or drains contaminates waterways, which can harm wildlife and drinking water.

In Mower County, residents can dispose of unused medications any time. Back in 2010, law enforcement added a drop box to the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center, 201 First St. NE.

But it’s always good to remember to take the time to assess what unneeded medications may be in your home.

So do your neighbors a favor and drop off those medications you don’t need so they don’t wind up in the wrong hands.

For more information, visit https://doseofreality.mn.gov/ or https://www.pca.state.mn.us/living-green/managing-unwanted-medications.