National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is taking place in Nampa, Idaho on October 27, 2018. This event is an important one, and if you have old medications lying around your home, it is one you should not miss.
Like many people, you probably keep your prescription pain pills and other drugs in a medicine cabinet. You may have a difficult time letting them go because you wonder, what if I need them later on? There are some very good reasons why you should not hang on to them, and we will cover those in just a moment.
There are several locations in the area where you can take your prescription medications that you no longer need. They are all very convenient, and the process of dropping them off is simple.
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Prescription Drug Drop-Off Locations Near Nampa
The DEA website has a very helpful tool that you can use to find a drop-off location near you. The following is information that can help you quickly find your closest site if you live in the Nampa area.
The Nampa Police Department
Nampa Civic Center
311 3rd St. South
Nampa, Idaho 83651
Caldwell Police Department
110 South 5th Ave.
Caldwell, Idaho 83605
Meridian Police Department
Blue Cross of Idaho
3000 E. Pine Ave.
Meridian, Idaho 83642
Boise Police Department – Drug Free Idaho
ADA County Sheriff’s Office
7200 Barrister Drive
Boise, ID 83704
Emmet Police Department
Inside police department lobby
501 E. Main St.
Emmet, Idaho 83617
Boise Police Department – Drug Free Idaho
Fred Meyer Garden City of Boise
5425 W. Chinden Blvd.
Garden City, Idaho 83714
Please be aware that these locations will be accepting prescription drugs on October 27, 2018 between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.
What is the Process Like for Dropping Off Your Prescription Medications?
You will find that the entire process is very quick and simple. Sometimes people just do not want to attend one of these events because they are concerned about a long wait. Others may worry that they may end up filling out tons of paperwork, and they do not want to take the time.
You will not find any of this to be true when you participate in this event. In fact, the officials have made it very easy to return your prescription medications. There is no paperwork to fill out, and all you will need to do is drop them off. This eliminates the need for long lines as you wait your turn.
How Successful was the Previous Prescription Drug Take-Back Day?
The last event was held in April of 2018. The DEA reported that it was a huge success, and they were even able to bring in a record number of unused pills.
The event was held at almost 6,000 sites all across the country. Altogether, they were able to collect and destroy close to one million pounds of medications. That is close to 475 tons of drugs that were no longer being used. It was the most successful event in DEA history.
The DEA began holding prescription drug take-back days in 2010. Since that first event, they have collected 9,964,714 pounds, or 4,982 tons of drugs.
More than ever, people are becoming aware of the number of opioid-related deaths in the United States. That number continues to rise, and because of that, it is anticipated that there will be even more medications collected at this event.
What Happens to the Medications Once They are Dropped Off?
People often wonder what happens to drugs after take-back events. Many speculate that they might be resold to the public, or used to make new medications. Neither of these is true at all.
The medications are not resold or repackaged for use later on. They are also not donated or even brought back into circulation for any reason whatsoever. The DEA renders them as non-retrievable, and they have specific rules in place for what happens once they are collected.
In 2014, the DEA stated that any prescription drugs that are collected at these events should be incinerated or put through a process called chemical digestion. This means that they are dissolved into a solution that is unusable.
Why Should You Turn in Your Unused Prescription Medications?
There are many reasons why you should consider attending a take-back event near you on October 27th. We would like to take this opportunity to explain the reasons below.
Many Drugs Lose Their Potency Over Time and May Even be Dangerous
According to the FDA, people should avoid using their medications when they are past their expiration dates. They state that they began requiring these dates in 1979, and for good reason. After that date, the medication may not be safe for use. At the very least, it may not work as it was intended to work.
Ilisa Bernstein is the Deputy Director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. She says, “The medicine expiration date is a critical part of deciding if the product is safe to use and will work as intended.” The bottom line is that using expired medications carries many risks, and it can even be harmful to your health.
The Risk of Accidental Poisoning
When medications are left lying around at home, or even when they are put in medicine cabinets, there is a risk of accidental poisoning. As you might assume, children are often the victims in these scenarios. In 2013, CBS News reported that medication poisonings in children appeared to be increasing along with the rising rates of prescriptions getting filled by adults.
The Pediatrics Journal reported on many studies that cited certain drugs as being at fault. These included:
- Blood pressure medications
- Drugs to treat diabetes
Every year, more than 70,000 children will go to the emergency room because of accidental poisonings from prescription drugs. But this number is low compared the number of exposures that are believed to actually happen. It is estimated that children get into the wrong medicine more than 500,000 times per year.
The Risk of Drugs Getting Stolen
Kids have been raiding medicine cabinets for years, looking for any way possible to get high. Teenagers are the most likely culprits, but younger children may do it as well. Their curiosity may lead them to look through cabinets and drawers, and when they find drugs, they may not know what they are.
For teenagers who are using the drugs to get high, stealing them seems like a better choice than using illegal drugs. They believe that medications are safe because they are prescribed by a doctor.
Of course, children are not the only ones stealing prescription drugs. Consider these stories:
- A mom admits that she stole her dying daughter’s pain medications.
- Someone delivers a pizza to your house and asks to use the bathroom. They come out with a pocket full of pills.
- A friend with a secret opioid addiction comes to visit and takes some of your medications without your knowledge.
- A paramedic steals pain medications from a patient after coming to his house because of a 911 call.
- A dad steals his son’s ADHD medication to help him stay awake while he’s at work.
These scenarios are not just made up; they actually happen all the time.
Unused Prescription Medications Can Get Lost
When drugs go unused for long periods of time, it is very common for them to get lost. They can get shoved into the back of a drawer or cabinet, or even left behind after a family moves away. Again, this happens all the time.
Lost prescription pills can cause a number of problems. If they end up in the wrong hands, they can result in accidental poisoning. They can lead to drug abuse, and eventually addiction as well.
The Risk of Abuse
There is always the risk of drug abuse when potentially addictive medications are not disposed of properly. Most people get their prescriptions, take their medicine, and then stop taking it when they no longer need it. But there are those who remember what it felt like when they were taking those drugs.
Schedule 1 substances are classified that way for a reason. They have the potential for abuse, and it is very easy to become addicted to them.
Keeping these dangerous substances in your home is never a good idea. No one should risk the possibility of someone they love – or even themselves – becoming addicted.
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The Risk of Overdose
Prescription drug overdose continues to be a serious problem in the United States. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- In 2017, there were more than 72,000 deaths because of drug overdoses.
- The sharpest increases were among those related to Fentanyl and synthetic opioids.
- More than 49,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017.
- This means that between 2002 and 2017, there was a 4.1-fold increase.
- About 19,000 of these deaths were from non-methadone synthetic opioid pain relievers.
- There was a 1.9-fold increase in the number of deaths between 2002 and 2011.
- Almost 30,000 people lost their lives to Fentanyl overdoses in 2017.
- Between 2002 and 2017, this is a 22-fold increase.
The reality is that anyone can get their hands on prescription drugs when they are left unattended. That also means that anyone – young or old – can take them and purposefully or accidentally overdose. It is best to dispose of them properly, and this event provides the best opportunity to do so.
What is the Drug Disposal Act?
Because of skyrocketing overdose rates, the United States government felt the need to address the issue through the Drug Disposal Act. The DEA made the final ruling available for public view in September of 2014.
The Drug Disposal Act amended the Controlled Substances Act, which gives the DEA authority to create new regulations allowing for the safe and effective disposal of prescription drugs. The goal of this act is to encourage people and businesses to develop varying methods of collection.
Prior to this change, there were limited ways to get rid of prescription drugs. Many people simply flushed them down the toilet or threw them in the garbage. Today, there are many more options that are much safer for the public in general.
If you would like to learn more about the Drug Disposal Act, please see the General Public Fact Sheet the FDA has made available.
What Types of Medications Should be Brought to Take-Back Days?
You can bring any type of prescribed medication to National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The only things that cannot be accepted include:
- Liquid medications
Some examples of drugs that you may have in your home and want to dispose of properly include:
- Opioid drugs such as Vicodin, Oxycodone, Fentanyl and Percocet
- ADHD medications such as Adderall, Concerta and Strattera
- Prescribed opiates, such as morphine
- Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan and Valium
- Prescription steroids
- Sleeping medications or sedatives such as Restoril or Lunesta
- Unused or old blood pressure medications
- Any diabetes medications
- Any prescription drug that is past is expiration date or no longer used
What Types of Drugs are Not Collected at These Events?
It is important to note that this event is only for prescription medications. It is not a place where you can dispose of unused over the counter drugs, such as caffeine pills, NSAIDS, aspirin, or cold and cough medicine.
For information on how to dispose of OTC medications properly, please refer to the drug’s specific packaging. You can also ask at your local pharmacy, and they should be able to direct you.
Also, these events are not places where you can dispose of any illicit drug that is not being used. This includes any of the following:
What Can You do to Promote National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in Your Area?
For many people, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is something that is near and dear to their hearts. A lot of them may have loved ones who have died from drug overdoses, and they want to get the word out. There are many reasons why someone might want to get this information out to as many people as possible.
If that is you, there is a lot you can do to do your part to inform others. We have provided you with some options if this is something you are interested in.
Setting a Good Example
The most important thing you can do is to set a good example. Let other people in your family know that you plan to take your medications to a local site and dispose of them on October 27th. Talk with them about your reasons and express to them how important you feel this is.
Talking with Your Loved Ones
If you know people who have unused prescription medications in their homes, talk with them about disposing of them. Even though these events have been happening for almost a decade, a lot of people do not know when they are, or where to go.
If you have elderly loved ones who live near you, you can also offer to assist them by taking in their prescription medications. Even if you assist one additional person, you have done a wonderful good deed.
Public Ways to Help
There are many ways that you can reach people on a grander scale if that is your desire. The DEA has several different files on their Take-Back Day website to assist you. You will find:
- Posters that can be printed in various sizes
- Digital billboards
- Print billboards
- Bus ads
- Social media information
The more you share about this event, the better. We need as many people as possible to know that this is happening right here in Nampa.
What if You Miss this Event? What Can You do?
Of course, the very best way to dispose of your old, unused medications is to take them to a Take-Back event. But if you happen to miss it, or you are not able to attend for some reason, there are other ways you can get rid of them properly.
According to the EPA website, these are the instructions that you should follow:
- Make sure to take your medications out of their original containers.
- Mix the medications with some type of undesirable substance. People use a variety of things, including used coffee grounds, cleaning products and cat litter.
- Take the mixture and place it in some type of disposable container that has a lid that seals. You might want to use an old butter dish or something similar. People also frequently seal the mixture in a plastic bag.
- If you do keep the mixture in the prescription bottle, make sure any identifying information is removed. This might include the Rx number, your name, or your doctor’s name. You can take the label off, or cover it with duct tape or permanent marker.
- Please the sealed container with the mixture into the trash.
Alternatively, you can also ask your pharmacist about the best way to dispose of your unused drugs if you miss the event. They should be able to provide you with information that can help you.
Commonly Asked Questions About Disposing of Prescription Medications
We know that we have covered a lot of information. But we would like to take a moment and answer some of the more commonly asked questions that we may not have answered.
Can I Throw Them in the Trash?
You can throw your prescription drugs in the trash, but you should be very careful to use the method that has been outlined by the EPA above. This is the only safe way to dispose of your old medications if you choose this method.
So many people simply toss their old medications in the garbage without giving it a second thought. Pets, children and even other adults can easily access them that way and become victims of accidental poisoning.
Even if you think that your trash is the safest place for them, please just take the extra time to get rid of them properly.
Can I Flush Them Down the Toilet?
When you flush your old painkillers and other drugs down the toilet, this might seem like the best method. They are out of sight, and you would hope they would also be out of mind. The fact is that flushing them can result in them ending up in our drinking water supply.
For homes that use septic tanks, drugs that have been flushed down the toilet can leach into the ground. When they do, they can seep into the groundwater. In cities where the homes are connected to wastewater treatment plants, drugs that are flushed will pass through the treatment system. Afterwards, they enter into the local rivers and lakes. They can flow downstream and end up serving as the community drinking water supply.
Most people think that this is harmless because wastewater treatment plants regularly clean the water they provide. While they are equipped to remove sediment and other materials, they are not equipped to remove prescription drugs.
What Harm Does it do to Keep Them?
In the end, a lot of people would rather just hold on to their old medications. They may have an injury that flares up on occasion, and having a bottle of painkillers on hand is something they have always done. People want to keep them around for many reasons, but that does not mean that they should.
Keeping your prescription drugs in your home can do a lot of harm, including:
- Putting others or even yourself at risk for abuse or eventually, addiction.
- Increasing the risk of accidental poisoning.
- Increasing the risk of overdosing.
- Making drugs accessible for others to steal them.
- Potentially causing you additional medical problems if the drugs are no longer effective, or even dangerous.
Why Should I be Concerned About Safely Disposing of My Medications?
When you dispose of your medications safely, through an event like National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, you are helping everyone. You are giving yourself peace of mind that your home is safe. You are also doing your part to reduce the risks that may be presented to others by keeping them in your home.
This event allows for completely anonymous disposal. That means that your personal information will not be compromised. This is an added piece of security that should put your mind at ease.
What Else is Being Done to Stop the Abuse of Prescription Drugs?
This event is just one way to tackle the problem of prescription drug abuse in the United States. Of course, it is not the only solution. The issue has risen to the point of becoming a health emergency. Consider the following statistics:
- More than 115 people die in the U.S. after overdosing on opioid painkillers, according to NIDA.
- In addition to the lives being lost because of this epidemic, our country carries an economic burden of $78.5 billion per year. This includes the cost of lost productivity, healthcare, addiction treatment and criminal justice involvement.
- In the United States, five million adults are now abusing prescription stimulants.
- Research has shown that 62% of college students with ADHD give their medications to someone without a prescription.
- Benzodiazepine drugs may be the next rising epidemic.
- In 2015, there were close to 9,000 overdose deaths that involved benzos.
- In 1999, there were only 1,135.
It is clear that the semi-annual prescription drug take-back days are good, but more needs to be done.
Preventing the Misuse of Prescription Medications
While the misuse of painkillers and other types of medications has gotten worse over the years, there is a lot that can be done. For instance:
- For Prescribing Clinicians: Research shows that more than 80% of people have had contact with a doctor or another type of healthcare professional in the last year. Doctors should be able to identify the misuse of prescription drugs with the proper treatment. They should also be able to take the appropriate steps to prevent patients from misusing their medications. If they see that a problem does exist, they have the ability to provide referrals for the proper treatment so that their patients can get the help they need.
- For Patients: Patients need to be taking charge of their own health. This means ensuring that they get all of the information they can about any medications they take. They should do research to find out if something is addictive, because doctors do not always inform their patients properly. Patients also need to read labels carefully, and look for any warnings or potential drug or alcohol interactions. In addition, they should never use someone else’s prescription under any circumstances.
- For Pharmacists: It is the pharmacist’s job to help patients understand the instructions for taking their medications. They can also be diligent to watch for falsified prescriptions. They should watch for patterns that indicate that someone might be abusing drugs as well. Prescription drug monitoring programs should be used everywhere too. These are useful tools that pharmacists can use to determine if someone is doctor shopping and filling multiple prescriptions.
- For Manufacturers: Today, there are ways for manufacturers to make pills more difficult to abuse. They are being used currently with some opioid medications, and they are known as abuse-deterrent formulations. They are designed to keep people from injecting them or snorting them. There are many other forms of technology currently in the works as well.
- For Researchers: Finally, it should be a priority for researchers to find better ways of treating conditions that are non-addictive. Our country has a growing number of elderly adults who need solutions for pain, anxiety and other ailments. Also, we have an ever-increasing number of injured military service members who require medications. These populations – as well as others – deserve ways to get help that will not end up in abuse or addiction.
Steps the Department of Health and Human Services is Taking
President Trump has made addressing the opioid crisis a priority from the beginning of his administration. The Department of Health and Human Services has followed suit, and they have put a plan into place that may help.
In 2017, they outlined their five-point strategy to combat the opioid epidemic. These steps are:
- Improving people’s access to preventative measures, treatment and recovery support. This may help to prevent many of the consequences that are associated with addiction. By addressing health, social and economic issues, many people may avoid drug abuse altogether, or be better equipped to achieve long-term recovery.
- Making overdose-reversing drugs more available and more widely distributed. This will ensure the provision of these medications to those who are more likely to overdose. There is a special focus placed on targeting populations that are considered to be more high risk.
- Strengthening public data health reporting and collection. This will improve the timeliness of data that is received to provide a better view of how the problem is evolving over time.
- Supporting new and cutting edge research into understanding pain, addiction and other issues that lead people to abuse prescription drugs. This will allow for the development of new treatments and identify effective health interventions.
- Advancing pain management practices to provide access to evidence based treatments that will reduce the burden for patients and their families. In turn, this will also reduce the burden on society as a whole.
Do Your Part on October 27, 2018 for Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
While it is good that so much is being done to deter people from abusing dangerous prescription medications, it all starts with you. We would like to encourage you to visit a take-back location near you on October 27th. It may not seem like much, but you are contributing to a massive movement that is saving lives and keeping people safer.