Take back the drugs day tomorrow — keep children, teens safe

There is a simple thing you can do tomorrow to help reduce the risk of a child, teenager or college student finding and using leftover prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, on your night stand, bureau or even in your trash. It’s a step toward stopping an epidemic.

Unused prescription drugs can be safely disposed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.on Saturday through a U.S. Department of Justice’s national Take-Back Initative. A collection site near where you live will provide a responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs, and provide education about the potential for abuse of medicines. Call 800-882-9539 for a site near you, or go to the Drug Enforcement Administration site to click on a nearby location. Many, many sites are available in most zip code regions.

In June, a New York Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement investigator, in an interview in NYSUT United, said America’s prescription drug abuse crises has been classified as epidemic. Investigator Jeffrey Shepardson spoke with school health care professionals — school nurses, social workers and guidance counselors — from across the state to help them learn how to identify signs when students are misusing prescription drugs.  Teachers are also likely to notice a problem.

After Shepardson’s talk, several health care professionals and educators remarked how they have noticed students’ behaving differently, but were not able to detect any smell of alcohol or marijuana. They reported seeing students acting inebriated, or aloof, or appearing deteriorated. Weight loss can be one effect.  Sometimes a student misuses a prescription originally made out to them for a legitimate reason by faking or exaggerating conditions to get more drugs. Often they roam through their parents’ cabinets and find unused pills. They may search cabinets in their friends’ homes, or garbage.

Abuse of prescription drugs is skyrocketing for teens and college students, said an RN and co-presenter at the NYSUT Health Care Professionals Conference earlier this year. The problem, said Judith Barrett, is exacerbated by drug companies that relentlessly promote their products and by doctors who are writing a lot more prescriptions and who “may need more education on prescribing and alternative treatments.” Visit this link for a list of DEA cases against doctors.

In the last documented year, more than 22 million prescriptions for painkilling drugs alone were written in New York, which has a population of 19.5 million people, the Senate Health Committee reported earlier this year.

People taking prescription drugs do not so easily identify with the idea that they could be drug addicts. Yet reliance on the drugs often leads to the abuse of them. After awhile  every aspect of the drug user’s life is affected — relationships, daily living skills, loss of interest, missed work or school, slipping grades, a change in friendships, isolation, lack of trust.

Tomorrow, open the doors and open your eyes. Take part and take back.

One Comment