It is no secret that there are millions of alcohol and cigarette abusers throughout the U.S. What comes as a true surprise is that there is more prescription drug abuse every year than abuse of heroin, hallucinogens, cocaine and inhalants combined. This brings the total number of prescription drug abusers in America to nearly 7 million, as was last reported in 2012. With such a high number, the government has opted in recent years to give Americans the chance to cut down on this problem. The national day to take back unused, expired prescription drugs is April 26.
Prescription drugs that are discarded can often fall into the hands of a child, friends of the child, dumpster divers or even criminals. It is frequently assumed that when an individual is administered a prescription, they will only toss the drugs out when it appears that they are feeling better or if they are experiencing adverse side effects. Unfortunately, this is not the only instance in which prescription drugs are incorrectly discarded.
Sometimes prescription drugs expire and the consumer does not know what to do with them other than to just discard them. In other instances, the container holding the drugs was filled beyond the amount needed for the prescription, and the consumer decides to dispose of the excess.
Accidental consumption of prescription drugs to varying degrees has led to countless cases of poisoning, near death experiences and overdoses. More often than most people would like to believe, this is due to children having wider access to the containers and cabinets holding prescription drugs. One way that consumers can protect their children and loved ones from accidental horrors is by purchasing mechanisms to affix to their medicine cabinets that limit a child’s access.
Beyond those efforts, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 26 will be full of people taking their unneeded and expired drugs to pre-approved collection centers. Among the facilities and locations designated for drug take backs will be local government buildings, environmental groups, health organizations, police stations and drugstores.
Many environmental organizations are highly enthusiastic about Drug Take Back Day because it means fewer people will be flushing their excess drugs down the drain or toilet. There have not been many studies conducted on the effects that flushed prescription drugs have on the public water supply or nature as a whole, leaving the scientific community at large insufficient evidence to support blanket statements about such dynamics. There is no question however that the contamination of water takes place when unneeded chemicals and compounds find their way into water pipes.
National prescription drug return days have been appointed to take place since 2011. This year’s designation in April will be the eighth consecutive event. Ever since inception of this event three years ago, over 3.4 million pounds of prescription drugs have been taken back, which is the equivalent to the weight of about nine blue whales.
Americans will be able to visit any reception center in their state from 10am to 2pm local time. Individuals that are interested in learning more about this day, or how they can locate a take back center closest to them, should visit the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s website on Diversion Control.
Fortunately, many survivors of prescription drug abuse have lived to be able to warn others about their perils. No matter how many pills are taken back on April 26, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day has already proven to help in saving the lives of millions and will no doubt remain a significant force in the gradual progression of the nation’s health.
By Brad Johnson