For several years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has hosted a spring and fall National Prescription Takeback Day. In 2018, a combined 932 tons of prescription pills were collected, from about 5,800 sites nationwide. That translates to about 320 pounds of pills per site on average and 1,863,282 pounds of pills nationwide!
Why is this important and what does it mean to you? Let’s look deeper at some sobering statistics.
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 70,237 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017. This includes illegal and prescription opioids. 47,600 of those deaths were opioid-related. Of those, 17,029 were due to prescription opioids. That’s an average of 46 prescription drug deaths per day and 192 overdose deaths per day, overall.
- According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), people who are addicted to prescription painkillers are forty times more likely to become addicted to heroin. About 80% of new heroin users have previously used opioid pain medications.
In their latest, 2015 report, The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids shows these key findings in their surveys:
- Only about 1 in 5 prescribers said they “always” give their patients information on how to store and dispose of their medications, including information on where to store medication. Most patients reported not receiving any of this information.
- Only 11 percent of chronic pain patients and 13 percent of acute pain patients say they are concerned with someone else in their household accessing their medications; and only 42 percent of chronic and 52 of acute pain patients who have children in the household said they store their medication somewhere their children cannot reach.
- Opioids such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Percocet), and buprenorphine (Suboxone) top the list of the drugs most likely to be accidentally ingested. They’re followed by anti-anxiety drugs such as clonazepam (Klonopin and generic) and lorazepam (Ativan and generic).
- Only about 20% of adults surveyed recently, lock up their dangerous medications.
- Annually, 60,000 kids under the age of 5 alone, end up in emergency rooms from accidentally swallowing dangerous drugs.
- One pill could be a fatal overdose for a child, if it’s a long-acting opioid.
- Realize the dangers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, too, like Tylenol. Have the poison control number handy. See this Consumer Reports article for other ideas and information.
- According to a 2014 survey, 40% of people visiting your home are likely to check your medicine cabinets.
- Two-thirds of teens (66%) who report abuse of prescription pain relievers are getting them from friends, family, and acquaintances. (SAMHSA)
- Most teenagers associate “medicine” with solving problems and don’t see prescription drugs as risky as street drugs.
- 1,756 teens will abuse a prescription drug for the first time each day. (Partnership for Drug-Free Kids)
- In 2009, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported over 1.2 million emergency visits for nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals, for all ages.
Please store and dispose of unused medication properly and quickly at a designated location. Protect our kids, teenagers and our environment. Don’t flush or trash unused medicines. We hope you’ll participate in National Prescription Takeback Day. More importantly, we also hope you’ll take greater care every day when it comes to all prescription and over-the-counter drugs.