Drug Take Back Day – Saturday, October 26th, 2019
If you think that prescription drugs are safe, think again. The misuse of prescription drugs is a serious public health problem in America. According to a 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a monumental 18 million people over the age of 12 have misused drugs in the past year.
We want to bring attention to the DEA’s “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” and the important role that it plays in preventing drug addiction and overdose deaths. Drug Take Back Day is available to the general public around the country every year on the last Saturday of October and April.
To understand the relevance of Drug Take Back day, it’s necessary to consider the possible problems associated with prescription drugs, the various classifications of drugs (legal prescription and illegal), steps to ensure prescription drugs are not misused, and how the public can get involved in National Prescription Drug Take back Day.
The Problem with Prescription Drugs
Ease-of-access to prescription drugs is one of the leading factors contributing to the prescription drug misuse problem. People are often misinformed about the addictive nature of popular medications, especially opioids.
Most people are aware of the dangers of taking illegal drugs, but many are under the false perception that prescription drugs are less harmful because a doctor prescribes them.
One study published by the University of Michigan, University of Colorado School of Medicine and Columbia University in New York found that legitimate opioid use before high school graduation (12th Grade) is associated with a 33% increase in the risk of future opioid misuse after high school.
It’s unfortunate that teens and young adults are prescribed opioid medications with such a high frequency that can lead them to seek more when the prescription runs out because they like the way they make them feel. Approximately 60% of adolescents obtaining prescription drugs for non-medical use say that they get them from family and friends.
We are literally flooded with prescription drugs in our society, with more than 80% of older patients using at least one prescription medication daily.
From 2015 to 2016, 45.8% of the US population reported the use of prescription drugs in the past 30 days.
It’s so easy to for people to become addicted, or even to get their hands on prescription drugs and use them for non-medical purposes.
Additionally youths who misuse prescription drugs are more likely to report the use of other drugs, meaning the misuse of prescription drugs can develop into a serious addiction and the potentially fatal mixing of drugs.
Related: Drug Addiction Treatment
What Types of Drugs are Classified as Prescription Drugs?
Drugs and substances are classified in five distinct schedule categories. Schedule I substances have no recorded medical use and as such, are NOT classed as prescription drugs.
Schedule II are substances that are at risk for potential abuse. These drugs are dangerous in the wrong hands, and many of them are prescription drugs. Schedule III to V substances get increasingly less addictive.
Here are the five classifications of drug schedules and some examples of drugs that fit into each category:
- Schedule I – heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (molly / ecstasy), methaqualone and peyote
- Schedule II – cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin
- Schedule III – ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone
- Schedule IV – Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium and Ativan
- Schedule V – Lomotil, Motofen , Lyrica and Parepectolin
How Can Prescription Drug Misuse Be Prevented?
There are many approaches to preventing prescription drug misuse. The first line of defense should be doctors, who can screen patients for nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Doctors can also be cautious and responsible when prescribing drugs that could be addictive.
There are also prescription drug-monitoring programs, which are state-run databases that track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs.
7 Ways to Ensure Prescription Drugs are Not Misused
Here are 7 ways that a patient can ensure prescription medication doesn’t get misused:
- Always follow the directions given by the pharmacist or on the label
- Be aware of possible interactions between drugs, both legal and illegal
- Discuss any changes with your doctor
- Don’t use another person’s prescription medications
- Don’t share your medication with others
- Store prescription medication safely so that others don’t have access
- Discard unwanted, unused or expired medications safely. The FDA has published guidelines for the safe disposal of medications
Unused Prescription Drugs
A common way that prescription drugs fall into the wrong hands occurs when unused medications are stolen, lost or misused.
That is why the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day focuses on collecting unused prescription medication.
This year, Take Back Day boasts 6,258 collection sites gathering over 400 tons (almost 1 million lbs.) of unused drugs.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Resources
There are eight “Take Back Day Resources” that can be accessed directly from the DEA’s website.
These documents and tools provide key information about the laws surrounding unused prescription medication and how to allocate authorized collectors. They also offer a wide range of posters and hand-outs to increase awareness.
The people behind Drug Take Back Day also run a year-round drug disposal program for people who miss the event and authorized participating centers can be found via their website.
Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to take part and host a collection site to make it easy for people to discreetly dispose of unwanted medication.
Alo House is LegitScript Certified and a Joint Commission Accredited Addiction Treatment Center.
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