April 28, 2012 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to rid their home of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. This is extremely important to remove unused medications from the home medicine cabinets.
More than 20,000 people died in 2008 from prescription drugs. Of those, 14,800 were from narcotic painkillers. “Prescription overdoses are epidemic in the U.S.” says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s astonishing”, says Frieden. He adds that many addictions begin innocently, when patients are given narcotics for a minor injury that could be treated with less addictive medication. “When I went to medical school, we were incorrectly assured – don’t worry – if patients have short-term pain, they won’t get hooked. That was completely wrong, and generations of doctors, patients and families have learned that’s a tragic mistake.”
Teen Challenge centers work to help people overcome their drug addictions. One young man told of his drug journey. “Back in school I would trade my Adderall to friends for painkillers. Soon after that, I was driving a drug-dealer around to buy hundreds of pills from cancer patients.” But when the price for pills got too high, he turned to the cheaper and accessible heroin to feed his addiction. There are many stories of people who started with prescription drugs before moving on to other drugs.
Dr. Jack Smart, Teen Challenge, USA president said, “Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is fast becoming our second most deadly drug problem (alcohol is still number one), Last year more people died from prescription drug overdoses than from heroin and meth combined. At Teen Challenge USA we encourage cooperation with officials to do everything we can to prevent further prescription drug abuse. By supporting this collection effort you can help insure that you do not inadvertently add to the growing prescription drug problem.”
Another student tells that his pain medication started with an old injury. Six years later, he couldn’t make his prescription last so he went to the street looking for more pills to get him through the month. Fortunately he saw his need for help and found Teen Challenge where he is learning to live without painkillers.
The Drug Take-Back will help a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that lay in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Beside the intentional abuse, there are a number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due access to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Last year in October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds or 188.5 tons of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners. In its three previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds or nearly 500 tons of pills. Join them this year to help eliminate the temptations in the medicine cabinet.
Visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/ to find a Take-Back site near you.