You hear about the stories. People, especially children, getting a hold of prescription drugs and dying of an overdose. Some of it is accidental by toddlers and babies, but increasingly it's young people deciding that the medicine cabinet can be the source of their high. Parents and grandparents become unwitting drug dealers. And the fact is many Americans have old medicine, old prescriptions sitting in their bathrooms and their bedrooms.
In an effort to rid households of unused prescription drugs, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has launched its first ever national "Prescription Drug Take-Back" campaign for Saturday, September 25 from 10am to 2pm at 3,400 sites across the nation. Drop-offs are anonymous. No questions asked. Authorities say the new campaign is urgently needed. "Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest growing drug problem…." said Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske.
The numbers are disturbing. According to the DEA, in 2008, 1.9 million youth, age 12 to 17, abused prescription drugs, with 1.6 million abusing a prescription pain medication. In fact, the DEA says, each day an average of 2,000 teenagers age 12 to 17 use a prescription drug without a doctor's guidance for the first time.
"This effort symbolizes DEA's commitment to halting the disturbing rise in addiction caused by their misuse and abuse," said Michele M. Leonhart, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
But will anyone participate and give up part of their Saturday to turn in drugs? DEA had success with a similar prescription drug take back program last year in New Jersey working with local officials. Roughly 9,000 pounds of medicine was collected, valued at $35 million.
Other participants in this new initiative include the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Partnership for a Drug-Free America; the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the National Association of Attorneys General; the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy; the Federation of State Medical Boards; and the National District Attorneys Association.
Again, there will be 3,400 collection sites in every local community across the nation, and DEA is updating their list regularly at www.dea.gov to provide the public with more information.