According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, opioid addiction kills thousands of people every year. In 2014 there were 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers. But it’s terrifying how easy it is to find opioid meds in the home. For example, the CDC calculates than in 2012 alone, doctors wrote over 250 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers – basically enough for every single American adult to receive a bottle of pills.
Even among the people at the highest risk of overdose (using prescription opioids non-medically 200 or more days a year) a friend’s or relative’s medicine cabinet is a common source of finding opioid medications. Among that population, 26% get them for free from family and friends and a further 23% buy them from family and friends. Maybe it’s time we stop that – and the best way we can do that is clearing those drugs from our homes and medicine cabinets.
The 16th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day falls on October 27th this year. Sponsored by the DEA, the day allows users to deliver unused pharmaceutical controlled substances to appropriate entities for disposal in a safe and effective manner consistent with effective controls against diversion. The goal of the Disposal Act is to encourage public and private entities to develop a variety of methods of collection and disposal in a secure, convenient, and responsible manner.
The results of this program that made its debut in 2014 are phenomenal and are hosted twice a year – once in April and again in October. In April of 2018 alone, the statistics are mind-blowing; almost 5,000 law enforcement sites participated with almost 6,000 collection sites set up across the country. This amounted to 474 tons of returned prescription drugs (a total of almost 5,000 tons collectively since the program began).
According to the Santa Barbara Police Department, medicines that sit unused in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the US are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. 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 medications—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards. According to the FDA, keeping medicines after they are no longer needed creates an unnecessary health risk in the home, especially if there are children present. Even child-resistant containers cannot completely prevent a child from taking medicines that belong to someone else.
Accidental exposure to medicine in the home is a major source of unintentional pediatric poisonings in the United States. Each year in the United States, approximately 60,000 emergency room visits and 450,000 calls to poison centers are made after children under 6 years of age find and ingest medication without caregiver oversight. And over two-thirds of emergency department visits for accidental pediatric medication exposures involve 1- or 2- year old children and nearly 20% result in hospitalization.
According to the FDA, consumers and caregivers should remove expired or unused medicines from their home as quickly as possible to help reduce the chance that others may accidentally take or intentionally misuse the unneeded medicine. Medicine take-back options are the preferred way to safely dispose of most types of unneeded medicines
Longs Drug Stores – Multiple locations including 3939 State St and 2973 State St and 1109 State St and 1835 Cliff Drive.
County of Santa Barbara Pharmacy – 345 Camino Del Remedio, Santa Barbara, 93110
Medicine Shoppe #793 – 3605 State St, Santa Barbara 93105
Prescription Pharmacy, 317 W. Pueblo St, Santa Barbara 93105
Garfield Beach CVS, 222 W. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara 93101
San Ysidro Pharmacy, 1498 Easy Valley Road, Santa Barbara 93108
And even if you can’t make the October 27th date, there are other ways to turn in and/or dispose of unwanted medications.
In 2012, California passed and signed SB 1329, which significantly expanded the prescription drug donation and distribution law enacted in 2005. It also amended the bill authorizing pharmacies to repackage donated medicine in preparation for redistribution in 2016. This means that any Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), a SNF designated as an institution for mental disease (IMD), general acute care hospital, psychiatric hospital, intermediate care facility, correctional treatment center, chemical dependency recovery hospital, psychiatric health facility, residential care facility for the elderly, mental health rehabilitation center, and wholesalers can donate. The program is free of charge.
Make the best use of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day by emptying your homes and medicine cabinets of drugs you don’t need and don’t use anymore. You’ll be disposing them in a safe and legal way and saving people with access to those drugs from more problems.