As we observe the 14th annual National Drug Take Back Day, which is designed to highlight the importance of properly disposing of unused prescription medication in order to prevent accidental abuse and misuse, it’s important to reflect on the impact prevention education can have in sustaining healthy and safe communities.
Last year’s National Take Back Day set a record—893,498 pounds of unwanted medicines—about 447 tons—safely deposited at almost 5,400 sites spread through all 50 states, but imagine how much more we can do if we spread the message of prevention through measurable education.
The Prescription Drug Safety Network is a national coalition of partners committed to using prevention education to empower Americans with the skills to make safe and healthy decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities. One of the network’s main initiatives is an evidence-based drug safety curriculum digital platform to educate at risk youth and their families about the safe storage and disposal of prescription drugs.
How to Safely Dispose of Prescription Drugs
Medicines that are no longer being used can pose unnecessary dangers to families and youth in particular. Drug Take Back Days raise awareness about prescription drug safety and provide an opportunity for individuals to properly dispose of unwanted prescription drugs at a growing number of locations nationwide. Individuals can search for a Drug Take Back site at the DEA’s webpage or by calling 1-800-882-9539.
Why Safe Prescription Drug Disposal Matters
According to the CDC 1 in 5 high school seniors report having misused prescription drugs at least once. Two-thirds of teenagers who use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons report getting the drugs from friends or family members, including taking them from medicine cabinets without people knowing. As a result, the importance of properly securing prescription medications, especially opioids, is even more critical.
Seventy-eight people die each day from opioid overdose, and another 20.8 million have a substance use disorder according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Young people are particularly vulnerable, The National Institute of Health’s Institute on Drug Abuse reports that nonmedical use of prescription drugs is highest among young adults aged 18 to 25.
Many people who misuse medications or opioids get their first dose by using medications prescribed to others. The growing epidemic of abuse, misuse, dependence, and overdose of opioids in the United States is deeply concerning and it is important that we protect our communities by stopping the abuse before it begins through prevention education.
Below are some images and a video from EVERFI’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention course, which launched this fall. The course features highly interactive digital learning modules that cover topics such as: proper prescription drug storage and disposal, the science of addiction, interpreting drug labels, refusal skills and other critical skills.