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Friday, April 29, 2011

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Prescription drug abuse is a major problem in America that affects nearly every family. The solution starts with awareness and taking certain steps to keep the chance for abuse at a minimum.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org has pointed out some alarming facts about the trends of prescription drug abuse aided with statistics from the2010 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS): One out of four teens has admitted to taking a prescription drug not prescribed to them. This confirms what we see in other studies and in our drug enforcement work at DEA:

  • More prescriptions are being written than ever before: There has been an increase of almost 50 percent in retail pharmacy prescriptions for opioids (the most frequently abused prescription drug class) in the past decade–more than a quarter billion in 2009;
  • More people are dying from prescription drugs: There has been nearly a 300 percent increase in deaths from prescription opioids in less than a decade; 
  • There has been a spike in teen abuse of prescription drugs: More teenagers are abusing prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine combined;
We also know where abusers are getting prescription drugs. It’s often from friends and family, particularly home medicine cabinets that provide easy access, which leads to accidents and the illegal sale of these drugs.
A recent survey found that over 70 percent of those who abused prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives; PATS shows nearly half of teens believe it is easy to get prescription drugs from their family’s medicine cabinet.

We can make a difference in stopping prescription drug abuse. It will not be easy. It will not be quick. But together, we can change access, attitudes and keep these drugs out of harm’s way.

One important step we can take right now is to make sure we safely and securely dispose of unused, unneeded and expired medications. Many of you joined DEA on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day last September to do just that. With your help, we collected over 121 tons of prescription drugs. This Saturday, April 30, we will be holding another Take-Back Day at thousands of locations across the nation. We already have more collection sites registered than last year. Please visit www.DEA.gov to find the location nearest you.

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