Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Have unused, unneeded prescription drugs at home? Turn them in now, physicians say.
Texas doctors recommend people with unused or expired prescription drugs at home dispose of them safely this weekend, so they are not accidently consumed.
As the state grapples with a sharp increase in opioid overdose deaths, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is organizing its biannual prescription drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 29. Prescription drugs can be returned anonymously at pop up locations across the state. Syringes or illegal drugs cannot be taken.
Returning unused medication is an important step to prevent misuse of prescription medication, especially opioids.
“The overwhelming majority of people who suffer from opioid addiction got started by getting opioids from friends and family,” said C.M. Schade, MD, a Texas Medical Association (TMA) physician leader and past president of the Texas Pain Society (TPS). “Their opioid addiction was not caused by taking opioids that were prescribed to them.”
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 9 million people aged 12 and above misused prescription pain relievers like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and prescription fentanyl.
Dr. Schade warns that consuming medication not meant for you can be life threatening. “Taking opioids that are not prescribed to you is especially dangerous because in the opioid-naïve patient it causes breathing problems that can cause brain damage and even death.”
Dr. Schade also said giving your prescription medication to others is both illegal and harmful. “You will be intentionally or unintentionally enabling dysfunctional behavior, which is not only unhealthy but oftentimes leads to addiction and/or death.”
While Dr. Schade noted illegal drugs – especially those laced with fentanyl – are largely to blame for the opioid epidemic, safely disposing of prescription medication is one way to prevent an overdose from occurring.
“The drug take-back program, while important, only removes one source of drugs that people who are addicted can use to get a drug to satisfy their addiction,” he said. “What is needed is a comprehensive program to engage these people in the health care system so that they will get medical care such as counseling and medication-assisted treatment.”
TMA and TPS physicians have been raising awareness about the dangers of street drugs. Dr. Schade testified before the Texas House Committee on Public Health last month and offered lawmakers several recommendations to curb deaths from illegal opioids including making naloxone – a medicine that reverses overdose – available over the counter without a prescription.