During a time where overdoses and deaths due to prescription opioids are at the highest levels in recorded history (1), significant efforts must be made to combat the opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic that is affecting communities across the country. The statistics surrounding the epidemic are startling, exacerbating the need for appropriate methods in which to safely use and dispose of excess, legally-obtained opioid medications.
While 95% of parents believe that their child has not misused or abused a prescription medication beyond its intended use (2), recent statistics show otherwise. A 2013 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 53% of people, age 12 or older, have received a prescription drug for free from a relative or friend within the past year.(3) Further corroborating these statistics – and equally worrisome – is that nearly a quarter of all teens have reported misuse or abuse of a prescription drug within the past year, with one in six teens having abused a prescription drug within the past year. (4)
We must do all that is possible to keep prescription opioids – including excess medicines – out of the hands of those for whom they’re not intended. Over 50% of parents who are prescribed opioids do not keep these medications from being accessible to their children, according to a 2014 study completed by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.iv Furthermore, over half of all individuals polled by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids are unaware of the proper way to store or dispose of expired or excess medications. Unfortunately, these numbers are not significantly different for patients who experience either acute or chronic pain. (5)
Recently, companies such as Verde Technologies or Walgreens – both CEPOP participants – have begun to provide consumers with the necessary tools to combat misuse, abuse and diversion from within the household. Safe disposal of prescription opioids is not throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, but rather utilizing the safe medication disposal kiosks as Walgreens pharmacies or placing unused or unwanted medication in a safe drug deactivation and disposal pouch like Deterra. (6,7)
For more information on these efforts or to become more involved, please follow the links below or contact CEPOP’s Takeback and Anti-Diversion working group.
(1) “Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014“, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), January 1, 2016.
(2) “From Rx to Heroin,“ Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Medicine Abuse Project
(3) “Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(4) “The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study: Teens & Parents 2013,” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
(5) Josie Feliz, “New Research Uncovers Disconnect In Pain-Related Communications Between Prescribers of Pain Medications and Patients,” April 29, 2015.