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Where You Can Dispose Of Unused Prescription Medication

On Saturday, police officers and public health officials across the country are putting out large, metal bins in parking lots, under tents and in the lobbies of public libraries. By the end of the day they hope the bins are filled to the brim with an assortment of pills. 

It's all for the National Drug Take Back Day, a twice-yearly initiative of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to destroy unused prescription medication, and any other drugs the public may be inclined to turn over.

In 2016,  6.2 million Americans admitted to abusing or misusing prescription drugs, and law enforcement agencies in Arizona warn that a medicine cabinet full of forgotten prescriptions can easily fall into the wrong hands or become an accidental gateway to addiction.

“A lot of teens gain access to dangerous opioids from the medicine cabinets of friends, family, and grandparents,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich in a statement.

Arizonans can dispose of their medications at one of 85 locations, and in the coming months agencies will incinerate the collected medication or send them to a hazardous waste disposal site.

Environmental activists also encourage the proper disposal of medications. Studies have found flushing pharmaceuticals down the toilet or throwing them in the trash have adverse effects on groundwater and has even lead to the accidental poisoning of children, pets and wildlife.

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Claire Caulfield first joined KJZZ as an intern in 2015 and now wakes up before the sun to produce and report for Morning Edition. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2017 and covered education policy in the nation's capital, election night in New York City and Native American issues for Cronkite News/ Arizona PBS. Before joining the Morning Edition team, she also worked on a documentary about rap music in the deep South and directed a film on drinking-water quality in the United States.On the weekends, you can find Claire flying her photography drone or working her way through the Pulitzer Prize book list.