Marylanders Encouraged to Dispose of Unused Medications During National Take Back Event

DHMH to host Twitter Chat Friday Focusing on Prescription Drug Abuse

BALTIMORE (April 25, 2013) – On Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents will have another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Local law enforcement agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration will host events for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

In addition, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) will host a Twitter Chat on Friday, April 26, at noon to answer questions and provide information about prescription drug abuse. Dr. Lisa Hadley, Clinical Director for DHMH's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration, will be on hand to answer questions.

Prescription drug take back programs address a vital public safety and public health concern.  Drugs that languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.  According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, abuse of prescription opioids kills more people than heroin or cocaine. Prescription opioids were involved in 38 percent of the overdose deaths in Maryland in the last four months of 2012. Between 2008 and 2012, the percentage of prescription drug-related admissions to Maryland state-supported alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs increased by 116 percent, with prescription opiates involved in one in five treatment admissions in 2012.

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—pose potential safety and health hazards.

"The Prescription Drug Take Back Day is one of the tools we can use to help reduce prescription drug abuse in our communities,” said Dr. Gayle Jordan-Randolph, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health. “Marylanders can play a critical role in helping to curb abuse by taking this opportunity to safely dispose of their unused prescription medications."  

Nationally, there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to Prescription Take Back events. In October 2010, the DEA held the first ever national Drug Take Back event, and has since collected more than two million pounds of prescription medications.

Unwanted medications can be brought for disposal to a collection site near you. Inquiries can be made at 1-800-882-9539, or to find a Take Back location near you, please visit DEA's website at http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html.

To participate in Friday’s Twitter chat, follow @MarylandDHMH and use the hashtag #MDHealthChat.

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