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Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital is located at 1199 Prince Avenue in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Jason Born)

Communities across the nation encouraged citizens to properly dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs to promote better health in the community.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day took place on April 27 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Local law enforcement agencies around the nation provided ways for people to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. The Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center participated in the event.

In a press release, Chuck Peck, Piedmont Athens Regional interim CEO, said one of the most important acts individuals can do is to dispose of unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs, which is why the hospital is supporting the event and local public safety departments.

“Piedmont Healthcare is examining its pain management policies and connecting its hospitals with stakeholders in the community in an effort to address this crisis,” the press release read.

Elaine Cook, vice president of public and governmental affairs and chief marketing officer at Athens Regional Health System, said this event is occurring in a variety of places throughout Athens through the ACC police department. She said they are fortunate that the sheriff’s department was able to help.

Cook said a sworn in person, such as a partner with the police or sheriff’s department, has to be present to collect the prescription drugs.

According to the Take Back Day website, six million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs based on a 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“The hospital is recognizing this increase in opioid addiction and some of the other addictions that come from that,” Cook said.

Despite a low turnout at the event, Cook recognizes that this event is important for raising awareness in the community.

“I don’t suspect there are tons and tons of people that have extra Lortab hanging around,” Cook said. “But by raising awareness about a need to get rid of it and to recognize that it is highly addictive — that’s what I hope happens today and why we need to be involved.”

It’s important to know after surgeries, you’re going to have pain, and there’s not going to be something that’ll get rid of all the pain, Cook said. She suggests taking the minimum you can to tolerate the pain.

Cook said the hospital is important because the community and the hospital are partners in crime, but she wants people to also participate in preventative actions, such as this event.

“We’d love to be able to heal you, but wouldn’t it be great if we could keep you out of the hospital,” Cook said.

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