April 26 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Date: 
04.14.2014

Join us at 19 locations in Hampshire and Franklin counties and the town of Athol for the next National Take Back Day on April 26, 2014, 10 a.m. -2 p.m.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, Hampshire and Franklin sheriffs' departments, local police, schools, Councils on Aging, prevention coalitions and other partners have collected more than 7 tons of unwanted and outdated prescription drugs at National Prescription Drug Take Back Days, since 2011, as well as from Permanent Drug Take-Back Boxes at 17 local police stations, getting them out medicine cabinets and the wrong hands -- and out of the environment. Participating sites in the April 26 National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in the Northwestern District include Northampton, Amherst, Belchertown, Easthampton, Granby, Hadley, Huntington, Southampton, South Hadley, Ware and Williamsburg in Hampshire County; Greenfield, Ashfield, Deerfield, Erving, Montague, Orange and Sunderland in Franklin County and Athol, in Worcester County. (For drop-off locations in the 19 communities, see poster below.)

For more information about the national initiative, sponsored by the DEA, and participating sites nationwide, visit: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

 What is so important about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day?

Heroin and cocaine conjure frightening associations of the terrible consequences of drug abuse. But an equally dangerous and more insidious form of drug abuse goes on all around us.  Some of us may even be contributing to the problem without knowing it!

More Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those abusing cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined, according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Abuse.  The deaths of celebrities such as Anna Nicole-Smith and Heath Ledger from accidental overdoses  in recent years are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the toll prescription drug abuse is taking.

And, increasingly, prescription drug abusers are turning to heroin, which is less expensive and easy to obtain. The heroin epidemic, once thought of as an urban phenomenon, has overtaken the Northwestern District of Hampshire and Franklin counties and the town of Athol.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, prescription drugs, including opioids and antidepressants, are still responsible for more overdose deaths than “street drugs.” And yet,  two in five teens believe that prescription drugs are “much safer” than street drugs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Three in 10 teens believe that prescription pain relievers are not addictive. Some 60 percent of teens who abused prescription pain relievers did so before the age of 15.

The fact is, a majority of teens obtained the drugs from family and friends, sometimes from their medicine cabinets without their knowledge.

Keeping prescription drugs out of the hands of children and teenagers is one of the most important objectives of National Prescription Drug Day, as is raising awareness of this growing public health crisis and ensuring the safety of our elder population. Helping elders clean out their medicine cabinets can help prevent accidental overdoses and the misappropriation of prescription drugs by personal care assistants or loved ones.

Another objective of Take Back Day is keeping harmful chemicals out of the environment. Unwanted and out-of-date drugs cannot be simply thrown in the garbage or flushed down the toilet. Pharmaceuticals are already present in some of the nation’s water bodies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The long-term consequences remain to be seen.