The abuse of prescription drugs has become one of the fastest growing and most dangerous problems in the United States. Prescription drug abuse is accountable for countless deaths and overdoses and has sent many thousands of people down the vicious spiral of addiction. Unfortunately, unlike black market drugs, prescription drugs are taken by patients who legitimately need them, and are often put in the hands of addicts by patients who intentionally or unintentionally make their leftover drugs available. Fortunately, a recent upsurge in the amount of prescription drug disposal programs has helped curb the tide of prescription drug abuse.
What exactly is a prescription drug disposal program?
Prescription drug disposal programs, which are often run by a community’s pharmacy, allows people who have been prescribed a pill that has narcotic qualities, such as painkillers, to safely dispose of pills that they no longer need. This is especially helpful for patients whose pain becomes manageable by over the counter drugs or without the use of drugs at all. A disposal program allows patients to turn in their drugs to be destroyed, and eliminates the need to flush drugs down the toilet, which can lead to contamination of local water sources. More importantly, disposal programs prevent addictive drugs from winding up in waste baskets, which pill addicts often look in for more drugs, or from staying in medicine cabinets, where they are at a high risk for being taken from a pill user who lives with the person who has been prescribed the drug.
Programs Reduce the Risk of Creating Teen Addicts
Disposal programs are aimed at limiting access to all potential addicts, but the group of potential addicts that may have its access limited most is teens and young adults. Prescription drug use is a very serious issue among teens for many reasons. Teens, who are not old enough to buy alcohol, often abuse prescription drugs because they are more accessible than alcoholic drinks. Teens can take pills from the bathrooms of their own unsuspecting parents. Many parents, who may have forgotten that they even had the drugs onhand, may inadvertently be supplying their children with highly dangerous drugs. These drugs, which are, of course, dangerous for anyone are particularly hazardous for teenagers, whose developing bodies are very susceptible to the dangers of the narcotics and are also far more likely to use drugs to the point of overdose. When parents dispose safely of drugs immediately after ceasing their use, they greatly reduce the risk of their children succumbing to abuse.
Safe disposal limits access to strangers as well
While many of the prescription drugs that are abused are taken from the homes of patients, many drugs are also pilfered from outside waste bins. Like any type of addiction, pill addiction means that an addict is singularly focused on finding more drugs and will go to lengthy measures to find more. Even patients who live alone or do not have potential drug abusers living with them may run the risk of putting their drugs in the hands of addicts if they simply toss out drugs with the rest of their trash. The only truly safe way to get rid of drugs is to have them truly destroyed.
How do I find a drug disposal program near me?
Many cities offer programs that allow for safe disposal. Try searching online for a program near you, or ask your pharmacist if he or she can recommend a site. In the unlikely event that there are no appropriate disposal programs, ask your pharmacist if your leftover drugs can be safely disposed of by flushing down the toilet at home.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.