An expert in the heroin and opiate drug epidemic has a simple suggestion for ways you can make a difference in the situation — get rid of excess and old prescriptions you have at home.

Dr. Kendall Stewart, chief medical officer for the Southern Ohio Medical Center, was the featured speaker at the community kickoff event last night for Bartholomew County’s new anti-opiate drug initiative.

He said one thing people can do immediately to help stop the epidemic is to dispose of any unused medications in your drug cabinet. Those can be tempting targets for theft by children or those with addictions. Stewart said that disposing of the drugs will help keep them off the street.

Beth Morris, with Healthy Communities, said that the Walgreens on Beam Road in Columbus is the only local location certified for public drug drop off. You can also drop them off at the Columbus Regional Hospital emergency room, hospital staff said.

You are urged not to flush them down the drain as the chemicals end up in the water supply.

Bartholomew County officials kicked off their efforts to stem the heroin and opiate epidemic with an event last night that drew a huge amount of community support. The kickoff event at The Commons was attended by hundreds of people and introduced the new Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress, or ASAP initiative.