Take advantage of the medicine disposal event Jan. 18

Unused or unwanted medications should not be ignored. No, you shouldn’t save them – they can get into the wrong hands and kill, often times children.

Flushing them is not the thing to do. And putting them in the garbage can is not advisable either – both of those methods can result in serious water pollution.

What then?

That’s what the Take-Back Day at the First District Health Unit is for. From noon to 7 p.m. Jan. 18 anyone can dispose of their unwanted medications knowing that they will be properly handled.

There are some rules to follow, such as putting loose pills in zip-lock bags if the original container has already been tossed. You can – and should – read more about the rules elsewhere in today’s paper.

The article points out an important reason to get rid of unwanted drugs, and it is a timely one. Evidence shows take-back programs, combined with changes in prescription practices, can make a difference in reducing the nation’s opioid epidemic, said Renae Byre, director of health promotions at First District. Storing of unneeded painkillers poses a risk of the drugs being abused. A 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 54 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtain them from a friend or relative.

That statistic is an alarming one. We are hurting the very people who are dearest to our hearts when we are not careful where our medications are stored – or allowed to accumulate. Some of us should look in our medicine cabinets the next time we feel the urge to rant about drug abuse and abusers.

In the words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”