On April 29, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will team up with local law enforcement agencies across the country for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
The day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications. Since starting the program in 2010, the DEA has taken in nearly 6 million pounds of unwanted, unneeded or expired medications. These medications may have otherwise lingered in medicine chests and kitchen cabinets or have been thrown down the drain. Last year’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event broke records by taking back 447 tons of unneeded medications.
According to the DEA, the majority of prescription-drug abusers report in surveys that they get their drugs from friends and family. Cleaning out old prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers and bedside tables reduces accidents, thefts, and the misuse and abuse of these medicines, including opioid painkillers.
Reasons to dispose of properly
▪ Misuse/abuse could lead to addiction.
The program can help prevent the abuse of medications. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 70 percent of people who abused prescription medications got it (free, bought or stolen) from a friend or relative. According to the DEA, 8 of 10 new heroin users began their addiction to opiates by abusing legally prescribed pain medications. The growing epidemic of abuse/misuse of opioids and other medications such as benzodiazepines can lead to dependence or overdose.
▪ Self-medication attempts pose health hazards.
Storing medications that are no longer needed may lead to serious health problems, if teenagers or young adults in their homes ingest them accidentally or use them in an attempt to self medicate because of the misconception that it is safe to use as it was prescribed by a physician.
▪ Reckless disposal harms the environment.
When an individual tosses medications in the trash or down the drain, the medication can eventually seep into groundwater.
Check your medications for expiration dates and properly dispose of unneeded medications. When in doubt, throw it out. Using expired medications can put an individual’s health at risk, as efficacy may decrease and medications may not perform as expected.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the Miami-Dade Police Department will offer the following locations to drop off your unwanted medications:
▪ If you live in the north end of Miami-Dade: Northside District Station, 799 NW 81st St.; Northwest District Station, 5975 Miami Lakes Dr.; Intracoastal District Station, 15665 Biscayne Blvd.
▪ If you live in the south end of Miami-Dade: Kendall District Station, 7707 SW 117th Ave.; South District Station, 10800 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay; Hammocks District Station, 10000 SW 142nd Ave.; Midwest District Station, 9101 NW 25 St., Doral.
If you live in a municipality contact your local police department and ask if they are participating in this event. If not, go to the Miami-Dade Police station nearest you.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.