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Do your part to fight epidemic

The opioid abuse issue in America is bad and getting worse, but almost everyone can do something important to help curb the problem.

This Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but Suffolk residents can dispose of their drugs safely at any time, thanks to a partnership between CVS Pharmacy and the Suffolk Police Department.

CVS donated two drug disposal boxes to Suffolk Police in 2015. These boxes and initiatives like the one happening Saturday are quietly on the front lines of fighting the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic.

The statistics show that prescription opioids — perhaps those found in a family member’s or friend’s medicine cabinet, or bought on the street from someone who found them — are the true gateway drug to heroin abuse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, half of young people who used heroin got started by abusing prescription opioids. One in 15 individuals who misuse prescription opioid painkillers will try heroin within 10 years.

Also according to the NIDA, the opioid addiction problem is staggering. The number of Americans abusing heroin nearly doubled from 2007 to 2012, with nearly 700,000 now abusing heroin.

Of course, prescription opioids aren’t the only drugs that can be disposed of in these boxes. Anything that’s expired or unwanted is fair game, as long as it’s not an injectable solution. Needles are also not accepted in the boxes.

Prescriptions and over-the-counter tablets and capsules, liquid medications, inhalers, ointments, nasal sprays and even pet medications are accepted. Labels need not be removed, and no personal information is collected from those dropping off items. The boxes are emptied into an incinerator at least once a month.

It’s important not only to get these drugs out of households but also to keep them out of the hands of those who might abuse them and to protect our waters by not flushing them down the toilet. Therefore, taking them to one of these drug boxes is the safest bet.

You can take advantage of the opportunity by visiting Suffolk Police headquarters at 111 Henley Place 24 hours a day or going to Precinct 2 at 3901 Bridge Road from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.