Step 1: Put unwanted pills into pouch.

Step 2: Add tap water to pouch.

Step 3: Seal pouch and throw away.

This is the simple process that soon will be available to Summit County residents through a pilot program.

The effort, which will be launched Wednesday on International Overdose Awareness Day, is aimed at making it easier and safer to get rid of unwanted medications, particularly opioids that research has shown can be a gateway to heroin use. Summit County is grappling with a huge spike in overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids.

“We look at it as a pipeline,” said Darryl Brake, executive director of Summit County Community Partnership, an agency that aims to fight drug abuse that is spearheading the pouch program.

Brake learned about the pouches that dissolve prescription drugs and make them safe to dispose of in landfills at a conference he attended in February. He got samples of the bags at the conference and talked to Mallinckrodt, a worldwide pharmaceutical company, which agreed to donate 40,000 pouches to Summit County.

Acme has agreed to provide the bags to pharmacy customers at its 16 locations. The bags will be available beginning Wednesday.

“We were looking for a way to be part of the solution,” said Katie Swartz, an Acme spokeswoman. “We live here. We read the headlines. As a community grocery store, we felt the need.”

Those involved in the program hope the bags may prove to be a simpler and safer method for getting opioids out of circulation than the prescription disposal sites that have been broken into different locations.

If the effort is successful in Summit County, it may be expanded to the rest of the state, Brake said.

“There’s an interest,” he said. “Everybody is looking to see how we do.”

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith.