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Chester County Press

Drug take back program is beneficial

01/28/2020 02:45PM ● By Steven Hoffman

At a recent Kennett Square Borough Council meeting, Police Chief William Holdsworth reported that 621.8 pounds of outdated and unwanted medications had been collected in the borough last year through the drug take back program.

The Kennett Square community is a little bit better off today because those prescription drugs have now been safely disposed of.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Drug Enforcement Administration established a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to address a crucial public health issue—the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. Some police departments and even pharmacies have started collecting unwanted prescription drugs year-round, making it even more convenient for people to dispose of their unused, expired, and unwanted medications.

There are a number of risks involved with allowing medications to lay around in the medicine cabinet.

Studies have shown that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

When children, in particular, start to abuse prescription drugs, it is often the medicine cabinets of family and friends where they obtain them.

Prescription drug abuse can often lead to more trouble, including the use of deadly street drugs. For example, OxyContin abuse can lead to heroin abuse because they are both opiates.

Prescription drugs can also be improperly disposed of, and when this happens the pharmaceuticals can be present in drinking water supplies.

Leaving unused medications laying around also opens the door for secondary crimes as burglars steal the prescription medications from a home and then sell them to a drug pusher.

When local law enforcement agencies started taking back these medications, it helped prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths by giving people a safe way to discard unused and unwanted medications. This helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs being abused.

While there are no easy answers and certainly no cure-alls to address the drug problem in the U.S., the effort to take back the prescription medications is one way to address a serious public health issue.

During the first 18 years of the National Drug Take Back initiative, an astounding 12,699,456 pounds of drugs—that’s 6,349.7 tons—have been collected. There’s no way to quantify how many overdose deaths have been avoided as a result of these efforts.

Properly disposing of prescription drugs is an easy way to make a difference in the fight against drug abuse.