You know how easy it is to forget about a prescription that you never finished and stored in your medicine cabinet. Proper drug disposal protects your loved ones from misuse. Prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs among 12-13 year olds. Many of these pills can be found in your medicine cabinet and around your house. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation and their AWARxEConsumer Protection Program are helping to stop this growing!
April 28 is theDEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. If you have any unused prescription drugs in your home, you can drop them off at the designated collection site in your community on April 28. The DEA coordinates with the local law enforcement and community partners to provide thousands of sites across the country, many of them at police departments, so that the unwanted drugs are disposed of safely and legally. Sites will accept pills, both prescription and nonprescription, for disposal.
I had the opportunity to interview the Executive Director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, Dr. Catizone on the dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse. Dr. Catizone is the Executive Director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and a licensed pharmacist. He currently serves as a Governor of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Board of Directors and Chair of the PTCB Certification Council. Dr. Catizone is regularly called to serve as an expert witness for the US Government in the areas of pharmacy practice and regulation on both the state and national level issues.
Check out my interview with Dr. Catizone below and visit www.AWARERX.ORG for more information on prevention and the April 28 DEA Take-Back Day. Also, don’t forget to like AWARxE on Facebook! www.facebook.com/AWARxE
A) What are the dangers associated with taking prescription drugs that are not prescribed to you.
Dr. Catizone: Taking a medication not prescribed for you can lead to serious health consequences, permanent injuries, or death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2009, 1.2 million emergency department visits were related to the misuse or abuse of prescription drugs. Controlled substance medications have the potential for abuse, and taking these medications if they are not prescribed to you could lead to addiction. Every year, 15,000 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers, according to the CDC.
B) What is the best way to prevent teenagers from abusing prescription drugs?
Dr. Catizone: An important step is to talk with teens about the serious dangers of prescription drug abuse. A video recommended by AWARxE, called The Road to Nowhere, tells the story of a teen who experimented with prescription drugs at a party and became addicted to the drugs. A link to the video is available on the AWARxE Get Local Oklahoma page. Teens can visit AWARErx.org for many other resources.
C) Are there any other ways to dispose of unused prescription drugs besides DEA prescription drug take-back days?
Dr. Catizone: Many cities and counties across the country provide permanent medication disposal programs. Many programs provide a drop-box at a police department—these programs can take controlled substance medications for disposal. Other programs are run by hazardous waste disposal agencies or other entities that cannot accept controlled substance medications, but can take all other unused drugs for safe disposal.
Many of the AWARxE Get Local pages have links to local disposal programs, and we are actively expanding these resources. We are happy to take information about local programs and post it on our Web site. Anyone who has information on a disposal program can e-mail the information they have to AWARErx@nabp.net – we will review for inclusion on the respective state’s Get Local page.
If there are no drug disposal sites near you, there are options for disposing of drugs at home. The information that comes with your prescription may provide instructions on home disposal. Only some medications should be flushed down the toilet and the US Food and Drug Administration has a list of these drugs on its Web site. If there are no instructions for disposal you can throw the drugs in your home garbage. But first, take them out of the container and mix them with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds or cat litter.
More details about drug disposal programs are available on the AWARxE Medication Disposal page.
D) How can you tell if someone is abusing prescription drugs and how can you help them stop?
Dr. Catizone: Side effects associated with prescription drug abuse include dizziness, loss of appetite, unconsciousness, impaired memory, mood swings, loss of motor coordination, trouble breathing and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Seeking advice and assistance from your family health care provider, such as your doctor is recommended. Your doctor can provide information and/or referrals to local programs that help identify abuse and treat addiction.
If teens are in need of help, a school’s guidance counselor can also be an excellent resource for local information.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides an online substance abuse treatment locator and links to resources about addiction and treatment on its Web site.
E ) What can parents do to make sure the prescription drugs they do have in their homes will not be abused by their teenagers?
Dr. Catizone: Parents should securely store all medications in the household. For example, you may want to lock your medications in a secure cabinet or a medicine safe. In particular, you should securely store controlled substance prescription drugs, such as certain pain medications and ADHD medications.
You may also wish to keep track of the number of pills left in the bottle.
Remember that sometimes prescription drugs are taken out of medicine cabinets by visitors to the home, such as a teen’s guests.
If you have pills or medication that is no longer needed or has expired, dispose of it at an authorized DEA Take-Back location, or a local medication disposal program. The next DEA Take-Back Day is April 28, 2012 and collection sites will be located across the country.
More information about these events, as well as an alternate method for safely disposing of unneeded drugs in the home garbage, is available on the AWARxE Medication Disposal page.
Links for cited Web pages:
· The Road to Nowhere video: http://www.awarerx.org/State_OK.php
· Medication Disposal: http://www.awarerx.org/medDisposal.php
· Get Local: http://www.awarerx.org/getLocal.php
· SAMHSA online substance abuse treatment locator: http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/index.aspx
· SAMHSA links to resources about addiction and treatment: http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/index.aspx.