According to a press release from Manchester Police Chief James Hauschild, the current health crisis has magnified the importance of keeping prescription drugs secured and taking steps toward combating their abuse.

“With Americans spending more time at home due to the pandemic, now is a good opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinets and secure unused medications,” the release states. “This one action can prevent medications from getting into the hands of children and others who may misuse them.”

As a result, law enforcement agencies around the country have launched the “Secure Your Meds Campaign” to raise awareness of the responsibilities each person must take to store medications securely.

“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse,” the release states. “Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused and misused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets.”

Agencies are also reminding people that while disposing of unneeded or expired medications is a wise course of action, there are some things to keep in mind.

Do not flush prescription and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so. Instead, return unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs to a drug take-back program.

The preferred method is to dispose of medications in dedicated, year-round collection sites, like the one located at the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office at 304 East Delaware St. in Manchester.

If that is not an option, the release lays out five steps to disposing of medications at home: 1) Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers; 2) Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds; 3) Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag; 4) Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off; 5) The sealed container with the drug mixture, and the empty drug containers, can now be placed in the trash.