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Cape County Public Health Center: Stop flushing opioids


Properly disposing of unused opioid prescription pills can keep them out of the wrong hands, but flushing them down the toilet can lead to them ending up in your drinking water.

“Unused drugs disposed of, flushed down the toilet, get into the water system,” Georganne Syler said.

Syler is the acting Chairperson for the Board of Trustees at the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center.

She said many people who have opioids often resort to flushing them down the toilet, either out of fear or are advised to. She said these drugs can then get into the water everyone uses.

“We want them to go into a mechanism that can be unable to be used by anyone else,” Syler said.

That’s why the Public Health Center offers a free drug deactivation system that is safe for anyone to use.

“You rip off the top, you pour in any unneeded, unused drugs, add about a cup of water, seal it up again. It forms a gel and then it can be safely disposed of,” Syler said.

Jane Wernsman, the Director of Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, said they have offered these deactivation systems for a couple of years in partnership with Southeast Missouri State University. They are there for anyone to take, no questions asked.

“We really don’t monitor every individual that come into take them, that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to put them there for the public use and the public access to get those bags,” Wernsman said.

Wernsman said you can use these not only for opioids, but for any drug or medication.

“You might have elderly, who have more medication and have family members that might be able to have access to them,” Wernsman said.

Syler urges people to properly dispose of medicine, for the safety of yourself and those around you.

“I would challenge anyone listening to go into their bathroom closet or cabinet and see how many containers of used pharmaceutical products that are right there,” Wernsman said.

You can visit the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center or the SEMO campus to access these deactivations systems.

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