Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV
Tomorrow is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. On October 22, 2016 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM law enforcement agencies and other sites will provide all of us with a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing old prescription drugs.
Why is it important to properly dispose of unused or unwanted prescription drugs? First, unused or unwanted prescription drugs are one of the ways that teens and young adults start using or selling drugs in this country. In a recent study, when asked how prescription opioids were obtained for nonmedical use, more than half of the 12th graders surveyed said they were given the drugs or bought them from a friend or relative. Youth who abuse prescription medications are more likely to report use of other drugs. Multiple studies have revealed associations between prescription drug abuse and higher rates of cigarette smoking; heavy episodic drinking; and marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drug use among adolescents, young adults, and college students in the United States. Many kids who abuse prescription or over-the-counter drugs find them in their own home medicine closet. An important prevention strategy for adolescent substance use is to remove that temptation, and dispose of prescription drugs properly from your home.
Did you know that you should not flush expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so? You should return unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs to a drug take-back program–the number one choice for the disposal of unwanted prescription drugs. So, I invite you to join me in visiting the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day website, enter your zip code, and find a drug take back site near you. I put in our Highland Hospital zip code and found 10 sites within 15 miles who are participating in the drug take back day!
We can all do our part to prevent substance use in our children and young adults. Who knew our efforts could start in our home medicine closets?