The numbers don't lie - the United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. In 2016, 11.5 million people misused a prescription opioid, and 948,000 used heroin. On average, 115 people die every day because of an opioid-related overdose.
How did we get here? In the 1990s physicians began prescribing opioid pain relievers at higher rates. At this time, pain was considered the fifth vital sign, so physicians were aggressively treating pain with opioids to ensure patient satisfaction. In addition, pharmaceutical companies were reassuring the medical community that opioids were safe and not addictive. As you would expect with any drug, the increased availability of prescription drugs led to increased use.
Enough is enough. Now, it's time to come together to combat the epidemic. It's going to take work from everyone - the medical community, law enforcement, public health professionals and you!
Reasons to Properly Dispose of Prescription Medication
Prevent Unintentional Poisonings
Make sure little ones don't get their hand on your pills. Among children younger than 6, prescription drugs account for about 40% of all exposures reported to poison centers. These poisonings are preventable!
Prevent Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse
While you're at it, make sure that your husband, teenager, mom, brother and friend don't get a hold of your pills either. The majority of people who misuse and abuse prescription drugs get it from their friends' and family's medicine cabinet. By keeping unused medications, you're making yourself a target for theft.
People don't become addicted to prescription drugs because they're weak and lack self control. People become addicted to prescription drugs because they are addictive. Save yourself the temptation, and safely dispose of your pills.
How to Properly Dispose of Prescription Medications
Permanent Collection Box: The best way to dispose of unused and expired medication is to take it to a permanent collection box. These boxes are typically located at police departments, pharmacies or hospitals. Unfortunately, there is not a comprehensive database that lists all of the medication collection sites. Visit the following resources to find the most convenient location for you: DEA authorized collection sites, law enforcement sites, or contact your city government office.
Take-Back Event: The DEA works with local communities to hold National Prescription Drug Take-Back Events twice per year. The purpose is to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way of disposing prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of the medication. The next event is scheduled for April 28, 2018 from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM. To find an event near you, visit: DEA take-back event sites.
Home Disposal : If you can't find a collection box or take-back event in your area, safely dispose of the medication at home by:
- Removing medication from the original container
- Mixing it with something that can't be eaten (kitty litter, coffee grounds, etc.)
- Placing the mixture in a sealed bag empty can or durable container
- Wrapping the container in newspaper or a brown bag to conceal the contents
- Placing it in your trash