By Cyndie Shearing @CyndieShearing
Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being taken from their home medicine cabinet.
This Saturday, Oct. 26, we can all do our part to protect our families, friends and communities from the tragic consequences of drug misuse by participating in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
Participation is easy, anonymous and free – typically taking just a few minutes at a local collection site – and ensures that prescription drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands.
All you have to do is go to your home medicine cabinet, identify unused or expired medications, then drop them off at a safe collection site near you. Visit takebackday.dea.gov on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s website to find a collection site near you.
Last fall Americans turned in nearly 469 tons (more than 937,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at nearly 6,300 sites operated by the DEA and almost 5,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 17 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 11.8 million pounds—approximately 5,900 tons—of pills.
Still not convinced participating in Drug Take Back Day is worth a few minutes of your time? Consider these facts from the DEA.
- Pharmaceutical drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or under a doctor’s supervision.
- The majority of teenagers who abuse prescription drugs get them from family and friends – and the home medicine cabinet.
- Flushing unused medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, although once promoted as methods of disposal, pose potential safety and health hazards and are no longer recommended.
Farmers, who deal with physical hazards on a daily basis, are often prescribed pain medication from a medical professional they trust, but may not be fully informed about the potentially devastating side effects.
“An honest injury, an honest doctor visit turns into an addiction problem that lasts a lifetime,” is how Tennessee first-generation farmer and family nurse practitioner Matt Niswander described it in a recent “Farmside Chat” podcast with AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
Do your part to make this Saturday’s Drug Take Back Day a success – together, we can make a difference. Visit takebackday.dea.gov to learn more. And, if you’re unable to make it to the Take Back Day this Saturday, you can find drug disposal information on the Farm Town Strong website here.
Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.