Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Medicine Drop off Day Aims to Keep Pills out of Wrong Hands Nationwide Event Collects Unwanted Drugs for Disposal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Medicine Drop off Day Aims to Keep Pills out of Wrong Hands Nationwide Event Collects Unwanted Drugs for Disposal

Article excerpt

The sign next to Gary Orosz, an officer with the Peters Township Police Department who was guarding a box of unwanted pills at the McMurray Giant Eagle on Saturday, read "Got drugs?"

"Drugs? In Peters Township? Not in Peters," Fritz Wherry Jr. said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, as he walked by on a weekend shopping trip.

Mr. Wherry grew up in the Washington County enclave, as did his friends and family. In the late 1990s, heroin roared through the area overpowering someone very close to him. He hadn't seen it that bad until recently, he said, with prescription drugs paving the wave toward illicit drugs for several in his inner circle.

"I don't get it," he said. "I took three pain pills in my life."

Recently, a 20-year old woman who Mr. Wherry once coached in softball was found dead from a drug overdose.

"She was going to school for biomedical engineering," he said.

As Mr. Wherry spoke about another woman who got addicted to pain killers after a prescription for migraines led to a debilitating chase for more - "she had pills from every drug store from Peters to Pleasant Hills," he said - Mr. Orosz presided over a growing number of pill bottles being dropped off during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

The nationwide event allows people to rid their medicine cabinets of expired or otherwise unwanted medications in an effort to keep them from being flushed down the toilet or getting into the wrong hands.

According to federal data, two thirds of prescription pain medicine abusers get their pills from friends or relatives.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says that drug overdoses kill many more people each year than guns or car crashes. Prescription drugs not only account for the largest portion of drug-related deaths in the U.S., but they also serve as a gateway into heroin use, which has established a firm grip over Washington County. …

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