- Posted byon October 28, 2011 at 3:55 PM EST
The home medicine cabinet is a minefield. Each day, nearly 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time – and a majority of those pills are known to come from family and friends, including the medicine cabinet. Most leftover and expired medicines can be thrown in the household trash, and a few must be flushed down the toilet. But I suggest taking advantage of the growing number of community-based “take back” or drug disposal programs that offer a safer alternative.
Disposal programs, cost-effective programs allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. The drop-off locations vary across the country. Many are at police departments. Others are at temporary places like pharmacies and community centers. All of them use secure equipment and strict procedures to prevent theft or diversion.
I’ve seen first-hand in Florida as nervous parents returned containers of old drugs, fearful that their toddlers will get their hands on them or that their teens will want to experiment with them.
It’s no joke. Home medicine cabinets have become the new drug dealers. But it’s one drug dealer that parents can put a stop to. For me, the take-back programs are the only secure and environmentally sound way to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals without contaminating surface and ground waters.
Started in the mid-2010s, the take-back programs spread fast to keep up with the prescription drug abuse epidemic that kills thousands and thousands of people annually in the United States. The effort picked up steam when the Drug Enforcement Administration organized the National Prescription Drug Take Back Days in September 2010, April 2011, and again this past August. Nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation have participated in these events, collecting more than 309 tons of pills. Another national take-back day is planned for tomorrow, October 29, so check the National Prescription Drug Take Back Days website to find upcoming events in your area. Unfortunately, there are restrictions on disposing of controlled substances. The DEA is working on changes to these rules to make it easier for people to dispose of controlled drugs. However, until these changes are made and there are regular disposal sites, many consumers keep prescribed drugs in their medicine cabinets and other places for a long time, not knowing how to get rid of them properly.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the following steps need to be taken to dispose of unused medication:
- Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
If no instructions are given on the drug label and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash, but first:
- Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.
- Put them in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before take-back programs reach most corners of the country. This will address the real concern that teens could misuse these very accessible drugs.
Until that happens, let’s all make sure we clean out the medicine cabinets and get potentially dangerous leftover drugs out of our homes.
Karen H. Perry is the executive director of NOPE Task Force
- Posted byon October 25, 2011 at 12:33 PM EST
Across the Nation community leaders, public health offices, and police departments are working to address today’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. As part of the Smart Policing Initiative, the Reno, Nevada Police Department recently launched an innovative new project aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse within our community. Based on a comprehensive strategy with both enforcement and prevention components, the initiative decreases availability of prescription drugs, increases knowledge about the dangers of substance abuse, and enforces laws designed to reduce prescription drug fraud and diversion.
This collaborative initiative was developed in partnership with the pharmaceutical, medical, education, and business communities, and with the support of substance abuse prevention advocates. Ongoing activities include:
- Prescription fraud training for over 300 pharmacists in the Reno area;
- Meetings with pharmaceutical and medical boards to enhance knowledge sharing and collaboration;
- Prescription Drug Round Up events which have collected and destroyed over 285,000 pills including highly addictive opiates, depressants , and stimulants;
- Distribution of over 500 lockable medicine cabinets that help limit in-home access to prescription drugs; and
- Series of interactive discussions and surveys with teens and adults to gain better understanding of the extent and nature of prescription drug abuse.
To date, the results of this initiative, which is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, include enhanced collaboration and cooperation throughout the area. Among the participants, both physicians and pharmacists have stated that they believe improved protocols for the dispensing of drugs are required and that police should play a major role in this issue. By taking a comprehensive and proactive approach to addressing prescription drug abuse, the Reno, Nevada Police Department is working hard to ensure that our community is healthy and safe.
Stacy Shamblin is Drug Abuse Prevention Coordinator at the Reno Police Department
- Posted byon October 24, 2011 at 2:08 PM EST
Decades of research on adolescent drug use demonstrate that the only prevention approaches with a chance of having a real impact on attitudes and prevalences are those that are built around scientific facts and delivered honestly.
There are no shortcuts: Even when the scientific picture is partial or incomplete (as it usually is), the best strategy is to give teens the most accurate and straightforward information we have. Most young people are eager to learn (even if they won’t admit it) about what different drugs of abuse do to their brains, their overall health, and their academic and social performance. Luckily, we have a fascinating and relevant story to tell them. Just from the most recent research we have learned, for example, that the human brain is not fully developed until the early 20s, which helps explain young people’s bias toward risky decision making, that addictive substances begin by affecting the pleasure centers of the brain but can go on to disrupt higher functions, like learning, impulse control, and decision-making, and that some of the negative effects that drugs of abuse can have on physical and mental health may result from their ability to change the patterns of gene expression in the brain. Discoveries such as these will no doubt influence how we prevent and treat drug abuse and addiction in years to come.
Like everybody else, young people want to make their own decisions based on what they perceive to be the best available information. However, young people can only listen and take in that information when they trust the messenger. Unfortunately, it would be hard to argue that we, as a society, have done a particularly good job in this regard.
NIDA’s National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) strives to earn back young people’s trust. From October 31st through Sunday, November 6th, the second annual NDFW will bring together teens and scientific experts in communities across the country to bring forth the facts and “Shatter the Myths.”
To encourage conversation about drug use during National Drug Facts Week, NIDA has developed the 2011 National Drug IQ Challenge - a 10-question, multiple-choice interactive quiz that teens and adults can take to test their science-based knowledge about drugs. NIDA will also hold its fifth annual National Drug Facts Chat Day on November 1st. On that day, I will be one of forty NIDA scientists and science writers answering questions about drugs from teens in schools around the country via a live Web chat. Anyone can follow the Chat by going on NIDA’s Web site.
NIDA recognizes that teens have the need and the right to know about drugs and their effects on brain and body. To cut through all the confusion I encourage you to join us this week and learn the facts about drug abuse and addiction. Information on National Drug Facts Week can be found at http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov.
Nora D. Volkow, M.D., is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Posted byon October 21, 2011 at 1:00 PM EST
The Oregon Partnership gave high school volunteers an opportunity to engage their peers in a survey about school alcohol and marijuana use – with a fascinating result. The students developed a scientific questionnaire with professional assistance, and then used PDAs to poll their respective student bodies. After the surveys were tabulated an extraordinary fact emerged: The actual use of alcohol and drugs was extremely lower than - practically the opposite of- perceived use.
The next challenge: Get that word out and see if it would affect conditions at the two pilot high schools. The student group developed posters and advertisements, as well as town halls, to share the news that most of their high school’s population was not regularly using alcohol or marijuana.
Six months later the survey was repeated – with significantly different results. In one high school, not only had perceptions lowered, but actual use of alcohol and marijuana had decreased as well. A vice-principal at one of the schools was thrilled to report drug and alcohol-related school infractions had decreased by 28%. By empowering teens they became agents for positive social change through careful research and targeted messages, resulting in safer communities.
The Oregon Partnership is a statewide non-profit promoting healthy kids and communities through drug and alcohol awareness, drug prevention programs, and 24 hour crisis lines for treatment referrals, members of the military and their families, and suicide intervention. We work with schools, law enforcement, the military and community coalitions statewide to create public awareness on the dangers of substance abuse.
Tom Parker is Communications Director at the Oregon Partnership
- Posted byon October 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM EST
Cross-posted from the MADD.org blog
Stephanie Call was a normal mother like any other. Her children were bright and full of spirit. They attended a private school and had all the potential in the world for success. Her family was full of love; and as a mother, Stephanie had much to be proud of.
That is, until Stephanie’s life was turned upside down. On a day that started out like any other day, her daughter, Kelsey, got into a car driven by her friend’s mom and headed to school. Suddenly, a driver under the influence of prescription drugs crossed the median in the road and struck their vehicle, killing all three occupants. The driver pled guilty, but Stephanie and her family still feel the loss every day.
“I have a gaping hole in my heart that will never heal,” Stephanie says.
Now, Stephanie is working to make sure that nobody has to experience that same kind of loss again. At an event held by MADD in Washington, D.C., Stephanie shared her story in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of drugged driving on our nation’s roads. While MADD has always provided support to drugged driving victims who were referred to us, at the event with the help of Stephanie, MADD formally announced a nationally coordinated effort to reach out and support these victims in addition to our continued focus on serving victims of drunk driving.
You can play a part as well. A victim advocate helped Stephanie’s family deal with the aftermath of a drugged driving crash. But, we need your help to make sure that other drugged driving victims can also receive support. Make a donation or find out how you can become a trained victim advocate. Because, while the substances differ, the consequences are the same—needless deaths and injuries.
- Posted byon October 19, 2011 at 2:40 PM EST
Yesterday, the Vice President traveled to Philadelphia to participate in a roundtable about the American Jobs Act with Chiefs of Police from the region.
Alongside Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, and more than 10 local police chiefs, the Vice President underscored how the piece of the American Jobs Act the Senate is considering this week would put thousands of cops back on the job.
“I call on the members of Congress to step up this week. Step up and make a choice. Make a choice. Make a choice for the people in your district. Should they have more teachers back in school? Should they have more police on the beat? Should they have firefighters in the firehouse? Or should you save a millionaire from a $500 tax? Ladies and gentlemen, it's that basic and that simple.”
The Chiefs told the Vice President about the devastating impact budget cuts have had on their communities. Chief Scott Thomson of Camden, NJ, had to lay off 168 officers – nearly half of his force – in January of this year. In the wake of those layoffs, Camden has seen a 14 increase in violent crime, and homicide has risen 30 percent.
The story echoed what the Vice President heard last week in Flint, Michigan – a city that has also seen an uptick in crime and a significant increase in police response times after cutting their police force in half since 2008. Today, we released a video that shows what Flint’s first responders say the impact of the American Jobs Act would be:
- Posted byon October 19, 2011 at 10:47 AM EST
The Obama Administration is committed to the fair and equal application of the Nation’s laws. Laws and policies that treat all Americans equally should be promoted, which will increase public confidence in the criminal justice system. In recognition of these principles, Director Kerlikowske met with Chicago community leaders this week to discuss drug policy and its impact on the African American community. Joined by US Representative Danny Davis, Andrea Zopp of the Chicago Urban League, Vera Davis of the Chicago NAACP, Bishop Travis Lane Grant, and representatives from the Rainbow Push Coalition, the discussion focused on preventing drug abuse before it begins, ensuring viable treatment options for those who need it, and expanding alternatives to incarceration like drug courts and drug market interventions.
Last year, the President signed The Fair Sentencing Act, a historic and long-awaited legislation which reduced the disparity in sentencing for crack and cocaine. As outlined in the National Drug Control Strategy, ONDCPis also working bring more treatment to the incarcerated population and the expand re-entry services, which provide comprehensive housing, outpatient treatment, and job counseling. Programs like the Drug Free Communities Support Program are also helping support local activities by supporting drug prevention coalitions of community leaders and equipping them with tools, training, and resources.
- Posted byon October 18, 2011 at 8:03 AM EST
Cross-posted from the SAMHSA blog.
As we celebrate National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, Drug-Free Work Week provides an opportunity to highlight the benefits that these programs bring to employers, workers and communities. Prevention, early intervention, and treatment are all critical to building an even stronger and healthier U.S. workforce.
On behalf of ONDCP, SAMHSA’s Division of Workplace Programs continues to implement the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program (DFWP) responsible for ensuring the national security, public health, and public safety of our country. The DFWP is one of the largest public health prevention programs in the U.S, that reaches 400,000 Federal employees and 12 million workers in Federally regulated industries. Further, private industry employers have recognized the value of the DFWP program and are currently testing an additional 50 million workers as a condition of employment utilizing the Federal standards.
We know that, like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Although often a long and difficult journey, research shows treatment is effective in helping people with substance use disorders achieve recovery. Treatment programs enable people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on the brain and behavior and to regain control of their lives. Providing treatment and recovery support services also lessens the burden substance abuse places on families and society. And, studies show that every dollar spent on treatment saves four dollars in health care costs and seven dollars in public safety costs.
ONDCP is proud to stand with SAMHSA and the U.S. Department of Labor in celebrating Drug Free Work Week. We encourage businesses to get involved today to help spread the word that working drug free helps to prevent accidents, make workplaces safer, and improve productivity and reduce costs. Learn more about the Drug-Free Workplace Alliance and get ideas on how you can get involved today!
David K. Mineta is Deputy Director of Office of Demand Reduction, Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Posted byon October 17, 2011 at 9:27 AM EST
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, administered by ONDCP, provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. While its mission is to disrupt the market for illegal drugs and dismantle drug trafficking organizations, ONDCP understands the value of approaching the drug problem in a balanced manner and is focusing increasingly on prevention initiatives.
HIDTA staff members partner with community-based coalitions and other organizations to tailor prevention messages to youth, share their time and resources, and use juvenile justice programs to help prevent and reduce gang and other criminal activity. An example of HIDTA involvement with prevention initiatives is the partnership between the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA (W/B HIDTA) and Badges for Baseball. Created by the Cal Ripken, Sr., Foundation, Badges for Baseball teaches life lessons to disadvantaged youth through baseball and softball. Kids learn how to play our national pastime while working with police officers, who serve as mentors and role models, delivering lessons on character building, developing positive values, and drug use prevention.
- Posted byon October 14, 2011 at 5:06 PM EST
Cross-posted from Office of Public Engagement Blog
Thanks largely to the work of organizations like MADD, most Americans today understand the terrible consequences of drunk driving. But it has become increasingly apparent that drugged driving also poses a serious threat to public safety. The problem is far more prevalent than most people realize. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of all those tested and whose test results were known one in three drivers killed in crashes tested positive for drugs.
President Obama is dedicated to reducing the negative impact drug use and its consequences have on public health and safety. And to help address this serious challenge, President Obama has set a goal of reducing drugged driving in America by 10 percent by 2015. To help achieve this goal, today ONDCP is convening key partners from across the Nation to find ways to make progress. This summit— a gathering of leaders in youth prevention, highway safety, law enforcement, government, and research—is an invaluable opportunity to take stock of where we are in our efforts, and where we need to go from here.
In addition, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and MADD announced a new partnership this week to raise public awareness regarding the consequences of drugged driving. MADD has launched a national effort to provide support to the victims of poly-abuse (both alcohol and drugs) and drugged driving and took time this week to recognize law enforcement officers for their achievements in drugged driving enforcement.
We’re proud of the work of organizations like MADD and the Governors Highway Safety Association are accomplishing to help us reach our goal. Working together, we can save lives and make our roadways safer. And the good news is that we’re making progress.
Seventeen states already have per se laws on the books that make it illegal for individuals to drive after using drugs and place others in harm’s way. ONDCP is also working to raise public awareness about this issue through education. As part of this effort we’ve released a toolkit aimed at teens, parents, and community leaders to help prevent drugged drivers from hitting our roads.
Jon Carson is Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
White House Blogs
- The White House Blog
- Middle Class Task Force
- Council of Economic Advisers
- Council on Environmental Quality
- Council on Women and Girls
- Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Office of Management and Budget
- Office of Public Engagement
- Office of Science & Tech Policy
- Office of Urban Affairs
- Open Government
- Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships
- Social Innovation and Civic Participation
- US Trade Representative
- Office National Drug Control Policy