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Dispose of Medicine Properly

Properly disposing of your unused and expired medications is something we can all do - and encourage our friends and family to do - to help keep our communities safe.

Do not flush pills down the toilet!

Each Portage County police station has a drug drop-off box which are open 24 hours. There are also disposal pouches that dissolve medications and safely throw away.

Disposal pouches are available at Acme pharmacy and the Mental Health & Recovery Board. Give us a call at 330.673.1756 if you would like one for your personal use or some to distribute at your organization.

Article in the Record Courier By EILEEN MCCLORY ReporterPosted Aug 14, 2019

Portage County residents who want to safely clean out their medicine cabinets now have another option in addition to putting their old medications into a lockbox at their local police department.

Deterra Pouches look like black resealable bags, but they’re coated with a biodegradable compound on the outside and activated charcoal on the inside, which breaks down medications on the interior. The user pours water into the pouch, allows the compound inside to react with the water and the medication, and then can dispose of the medication in the trash.

The medication can also safely biodegrade in a landfill.

Darryl Brake, executive director of Summit County Community Partnership, compared the product to naloxone, the drug that reverses the effects of an overdose, in its early years.

“People weren’t using it, they were trying to figure out what’s the good, the bad, the ugly,” Brake said. “And now, Narcan and naloxone is incorporated into the fabric of the field.”

The Deterra project was started in 2016 in Summit County, Brake said. Northeastern Ohio has participated in Safe RX, a regional collaborative, for the past year. Safe RX includes Cuyahoga, Medina, Geauga, Portage, Summit, Wayne and Stark counties. This past year, the program expanded to all of Ohio.

Portage County residents can get the pouches through the Portage County Mental Health Board, the Portage County Health District, or the Acme Fresh Market stores in Northeast Ohio in the pharmacy section.

Karyn Kravetz, community coordinator for the Mental Health and Recovery Board, said they have about 1,000 of the bags available for free. The hardest part is getting the word out about the pouches, but that’s starting to change. “I’ve noticed in the last couple years that more people know about them,” Kravetz said.

It’s vital to get rid of old drugs in a medicine cabinet, she added. Giving out medication to other people who weren’t prescribed the medicine can be illegal, she noted, and keeping medications for a long period of time can mean they’ve expired and become unsafe to use.

People might also try to steal the drugs, which has contributed to the opiate epidemic. The Safe RX initiative is trying to change the way people keep their drugs. “You can change the behavior of the community and the way they do things by consistent education and awareness over a five-year project,” Brake said.

The collaborative has given out a total of 64,000 pouches in the first two years, Brake said. They spent $298,683 in the second two years purchasing the pouches, but got their first year of pouches for free through a donation.

The project also collects data submitted via postcards from residents on the zip code of the person getting rid of their drugs, whether the pouch prompted them to clean out their medicine cabinets, what sort of drugs they are, and a few other questions. That data is also helping to stop the drug crisis, Brake said.

Summit County residents can get the pouches through Metropolitan Housing, Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities, Discount Drug Mart, churches and some libraries, Brake said.

The pouches are also sold online through Walmart and Amazon, though that is not affiliated with the program in Ohio.

Some people are surprised that the pouches can help residents dispose of their drugs from the comfort of their own homes, Kravetz said.

“That’s the great thing about these pouches; it’s a safe and environmentally safe way for people to dispose of the medication without leaving their home,” she said.

Contact reporter Eileen McClory at 330-298-1128, or @Eileen_McClory.

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