BALTIMORE (September 28, 2012) – Tomorrow, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Marylanders 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.
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 opiates kills more people than heroin or cocaine, and prescription opiates were involved in over half of the overdose deaths in Maryland in the first half of 2012. Between 2007 and 2012, the percentage of prescription drug-related admissions to Maryland State-supported alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs increased by 120 percent, with prescription opiates accounting for 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—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
“Prescription drug abuse is a growing public health concern,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “Marylanders should take advantage of this opportunity to be part of the solution.”
Nationally, there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the last Prescription Take Back Day. On April 28, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners. In its four previous events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills.
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.
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