Public Safety

Great Rx: CAC Gets Prescription Drug Drop Box

Drug Drop Box Final

So, where can you go to safely get rid of those leftover prescription medicines that have piled up in your cabinet? Well, now you can safely and anonymously drop off leftover drugs in a secure “drug drop-box” right here at the County Administration Center (CAC) at 1600 Pacific Highway, thanks to the Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisor Pam Slater-Price.

Board members voted unanimously this week to put the drop box in the main lobby on the first floor of the CAC — joining the 22 others already installed at every San Diego County Sheriff’s Station and substation around the county.

Modern medicine is a marvel. These days we have prescription drugs that can fix, or help us alleviate the effects of, almost everything. But those drugs can have powerful and dangerous side effects — whether they’re opiates prescribed for pain, sedatives or tranquilizers to help people sleep or control anxiety, stimulants to focus attention or control weight, or other drugs. And figuring out the best way to properly dispose of prescription drugs when we don’t need them anymore can create its own headache.

The FDA says you can toss some unused prescription drugs into the trash. But it also recommends that before you do that, you: take them out of their containers, “mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter” (ostensibly to make sure kids and pets don’t want to eat them if they find them), put them into other “sealable” plastic bags, scratch off all identifying information on the original bottles … Yeah, a lot of work.

Flush them down the toilet? Nope. They can float into and harm our environment.

So, often, old prescription drugs just sit in our cabinets — and that can be dangerous.

How come? Someone might be tempted to use those drugs even though they were prescribed for someone else and their unique medical condition, or to treat a minor illness that should be treated with less potent over-the-counter drugs (the metaphorical equivalent of using a very dangerous sledgehammer to kill a fly).

But leftover prescription drugs pose an even bigger potential danger.

That’s because prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in recent years, especially among younger people. Deaths from misusing or abusing prescription drugs have been trending upward in San Diego County for the last five years. In 2011 alone, 267 people died. And nearly 20 percent — one out of every five — high school seniors said they misused prescription drugs in a random sampling of San Diego Unified School District students conducted in 2011 by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, forget about wrestling with kitty litter to be responsible. Now you can just safely get rid of those old prescription drugs right here at the CAC!



Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact