National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: Why You Should Care

April 29th, 2017 the DEA will be holding the 13th Annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This initiative provides members of the community a safe and convenient way to dispose of their unused prescription drugs. Collection sites will be open nationwide from 10am-2pm. To find a collection site near you click here.

If you are not bringing your unused prescription drugs to a collection site one of two things is happening; you are disposing of them yourself, or they are sitting in your medicine cabinet. Both carry potential risks to our environment, our community and our loved ones.  

Holding on to Unused Prescription Drugs

Saving unused medications in your medicine cabinet may seem like an innocent action. However, with the growing opioid epidemic facing our country, unused prescription medications pose a serious threat. Here's a look at just some of the devastating statistics associated with prescription medications...

  1. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
  2. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.
  3. Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers, 94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”
  4. Providers wrote nearly a quarter of a billion opioid prescriptions in 2013 –This is enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills.
  5. Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. In fact, as many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction.
  6. In 2014, nearly two million Americans either abused or were dependent on prescription opioid pain relievers.
  7. People often share their unused pain relievers, unaware of the dangers of nonmedical opioid use.
  8. Taking too many prescription opioids can stop a person’s breathing—leading to death.

For parents, here are additional statistics that relate to teenagers and prescription medications:

  1. In 2015, 276,000 adolescents were current nonmedical users of pain reliever, with 122,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers
  2. In 2015, an estimated 21,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 5,000 were current heroin users
  3. Most teens get prescription drugs they misuse from friends and relatives, sometimes without the person knowing.
  4. Every day in the US, 2,500 youth (12 to 17) abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time
  5. After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly misused substances by Americans age 14 and older.
  6. Teens misuse prescription drugs for a number of reasons, such as to get high, to stop pain, or because they think it will help them with school work.

Disposing of unused prescription drugs yourself

“Pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that they’re at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic organisms. A vast array of pharmaceuticals—including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones—have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. Even users of bottled water and home filtration systems don’t necessarily avoid exposure.”– Source: Mother Nature Network Returning unused medications prevents health and ecological risks.

Doing Your Part

Participate in this years Nation Prescription Drug Take Back Day to protect yourself, your children and your community by cleaning out your medicine cabinet and spreading the word. On April 29th, 2019 from 10am-2pm at a location near you, you can help stop the opioid epidemic!