Opioid abuse and addiction have reached critical and epidemic levels across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids contributed to 33,091 drug overdose deaths in 2015, and the number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled since 1999.
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, the DEA will be holding its 13th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in an attempt to encourage people across the U.S. to turn in their expired, unused or unwanted medications. The agency’s “Take-Back” initiative is a strategy implemented under the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 to help curb prescription drug abuse nationwide. Since its inception, the program has resulted in the surrendering of 7.1 million of pounds of medications. In May 2016, more than 5,400 locations collected prescription medications. This disposal service is completely anonymous and free.
The majority of people who abuse prescription drugs in this country report that they obtain the drugs from family members and friends. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is aimed at reducing the amount of accidents, misuse, thefts and abuse of these prescription medications, including opioid painkillers that were responsible for over 30,000 drug overdoses.
- Nearly 50% of all opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. involve a prescription opioid
- 91 people in the U.S. die every day from an opioid overdose
- In 2015, more than 15,000 people died as a result of an overdose involving prescription opioids
- From 2000 to 2015 more than 500,000 people in the U.S. died from a drug overdose
- Heroin overdose death rates rose by more than 20% from 2014-2015. This resulted in nearly 13,000 deaths in 2015
- Among new heroin users, 3 out of 4 people report having abused prescription opioids before using heroin
- More than 6 out of 10 drug overdose deaths involve an opiod
It’s important to know how to properly discard your medications in the case that you don’t have a collection center near you or you can’t get to a site by Saturday. Some medicines are especially addictive and harmful if they get into the wrong hands. Many of these medicine bottles have specific instructions for disposal, and should be followed carefully to avoid injury and/or medical complications.
Here are a few things you can do to dispose of your pill safely:
- If the bottle says to flush the pills, do so.
- If those instructions are not provided, it’s important you do not crush pills or tablets, instead mix them with dirt or kitty litter or some other substance that is similar.
- Place this mixture in a sealed and safe plastic container such as a bag or empty can or Tupperware so it does not leak into your garbage.
- Throw away your container in the trash can.
- When getting rid of empty prescription bottles, make sure your name and other personal information is completely removed or unreadable.
Some of these medications should be flushed down the toilet because even one accidental dose can prove fatal, especially for children and pets. A good example of this type of dangerous prescription drug is the fentanyl patch. This potent narcotic pain medication can lead to serious health complications and even death if they get in the wrong hands. These patches should be flushed down the toilet as opposed to being thrown in the trash where they can be ingested accidentally.
Make sure to always read the label on your prescription pill bottle and any information packet included by the pharmacy. If your medication contains specific directions for disposal, follow those guidelines carefully. To learn more about how to dispose medications properly, read more here.
- Inhalers and aerosol cans: These products can be especially dangerous if punctured or come in contact with fire. Make sure to read all handling instructions on your inhaler. The FDA recommends that you contact your local trash and recycling facility to ask about laws in your area pertaining to disposal of inhalers and aerosols.
- Senior Citizens: This particular sector of the populations in particular is vulnerable to prescription drug abuse and accidental doses. Any elderly person who lives alone or in an assisted living community should have their medications monitored by family members or healthcare professionals.
- Keeping your identity safe: Before you dispose of any medication, whether it be an empty bottle, full bottle of expired pills, and inhaler or even the pacakging from the pharmacy, make sure all of your personal information, including name, number, address and prescription number are scratched off, covered or completely removed.
At Get Treatment, we can help you find a prescription drug addiction program that is designed to fit your needs for recovery. Our network of top-rated and accredited prescription drug rehab centers combine both evidence-based and holistic therapies into their treatment plans to ensure that patients received the best quality and comprehensive care available. We believe in a multidisciplinary approach to treatment in which each individual is treated for all aspects of their addiction, including physically, psychologically and spiritually.