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Disposal of Prescription Painkillers Curbs Abuse

Have you visited a dentist recently and had some dental work done?  Or perhaps you hurt your back, or got into a minor car accident.  If you visited a doctor for pain it's common to receive a prescription for pain medication.  Many doctors write prescriptions for 30 pills (or 30 days) at a time, but it's possible that after a few days the pain subsided and you no longer need to take the medicine.  Sitting in your medicine cabinet is now half a bottle of prescription pain medication that you will most likely never take. You have read about the destruction these pills are causing from people abusing them, but think it can never happen to you or your family.  Keeping prescription medication in your house leaves open the possibility of someone abusing them, but how do you go about disposing them?

This is a common scenario facing people around the country. Whether it be a root canal or a broken bone, most of us at one time were prescribed opiate based painkillers.  Unfortunately many people do not realize how dangerous it is to leave these medications in the home with children or young teenagers. Abuse of prescription painkillers by teens between the ages of 12 and 17 has jumped 10-fold since the 1960s. Non-medical use of prescription painkillers by young people born between 1980 and 1994 is 40 percent higher than that of any other age group or group of youth born before them. The increasing availability of painkillers prescribed to parents may account for the increased non-medical use by young people as the medication is readily available in many medicine cabinets.

It's important to keep prescription medications, especially painkillers locked up out of the reach of children and family members.  Many parents think that their children would never take painkillers which may be true, but why take the chance?  If it's not your children they might have friends over who may take them.

On October 12, 2010, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act law was signed by President Obama.  This law authorized by the Attorney General to amend the Controlled Substances Act, which currently mandates that controlled substances can only be collected by law enforcement officials. While a number of law enforcement officials have created drug take-back programs in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act, other take-back programs, in pharmacies and clinics for example, were prohibited from accepting controlled substances from individuals. This has now changed and people are able to bring unused prescriptions to take-back programs.  Next time you are in your pharmacy, ask if they participate.

People used to flush prescription medications down the toilet or throw them out in the garbage. This is now frowned upon as it can contaminate both ground water, as well as water treatment facilities.  You should dispose of prescription medications properly. If you need assistance, call your local police department, pharmacy, or hospital and ask where you could dispose of your old medications.

Last April, Americans turned in 371 tons (more than 742,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 5,800 sites operated by the DEA as well as thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. In previous take-back events, the DEA and its partners took in over 2.8 million pounds, more than 1,400 tons-of pills.  The more pills removed from homes, the less chances of a family member stumbling upon and abusing them.


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