In September, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsored the first ever “Take Back” campaign, asking people to bring all their old and unused prescription drugs to law enforcement sites all over the country. The American public really responded and brought 121 TONS of drugs back to more than 4,000 sites! That’s a lot of unused drugs.
Now, on November 13th, the Partnership for a Drug Free America and its partners are sponsoring the American Medicine Chest Challenge--once again asking Americans to clean out their medicine cabinets and bring their old prescription drugs to sites listed on the Web site.
Why all the commotion about unused prescription drugs? Studies show that when teens take prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons (like trying to get “high”) they usually get them from family or friends. Taking drugs not prescribed for you--or taking prescribed drugs long after you really need them--can be dangerous. And mixing them with alcohol and other drugs can cause overdose and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recently reported that in the last 10 years, the number of fatal overdoses involving pain medications more than tripled from 4,000 to 13,800 deaths, greater than heroin and cocaine combined.
So ask your parents to check out the family medicine cabinets for old or unused medicines---let them know they can bring them to sites in your own communities where they can be disposed of properly. By doing so, you can benefit the public health in two ways—getting more prescription drugs out of circulation and helping the environment, since flushing pills is not good for it. Photos from the DEA event can be found on the DEA Web site.