published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Don't become a pill mill at home
The sixth Operation Medicine Cabinet event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 27. The event provides a safe way for people to get rid of unused, out-of-date prescriptions, or over-the-counter medicines.
The program began in October of 2010, created by the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency with the help of many partners.
More than 121 tons of pills were collected by 4,000-plus sites across the nation that first year. The numbers have risen steadily since.
In April of 2011 the number of collection sites increased to more than 5,250 and collected 188 tons of medication. In October 2012, 244 tons of medications were collected; in May 2012, 276 tons.
According to the DEA, there have five Operation Medicine Cabinets since the program began. In total they removed more than 2 million pounds of medications -- 1,018 tons -- from circulation.
Keep in mind, these numbers do not include the weight of the pill bottles. They are the weights of pills alone.
Two million pounds sounds like a lot, but it's only scratching the surface. The problem of prescription drug abuse is at epidemic proportions, the National Institute on Drug Abuse said in December of 2011.
Between 1998 and 2008 abuse of prescription drugs rose 400 percent. In 2010 the institute estimated seven million people abused psychotherapeutic drugs.
According to the 2009 National Survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, a daily average of 2,500 teenagers used prescription drugs to get high their first time. In 2012, that number was more than 4,500 every day.
"Studies have shown that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet," the report said.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that in 2011 marijuana was the single most popular illicit drug used by seniors in high school. When use of different prescription drugs are added together, however, they become the first drug of choice.
There are extra dangers. Odds of addiction or overdosing are high, as is the risk of unexpected side effects.
According to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office, there were slightly more than 9,100 drug related deaths in Florida in 2011.
Unlike illicit drugs, which can only be found on the street, prescription drugs are often no farther than gram and gramp's bathroom, or even just down their hall at home.
To keep children and adolescents safe, monitor current medications. As important, do not keep old medicine around the house.
Help make the world a safer place April 27. Head to the North Division headquarters of the HCSO in Avon Park, the Sebring police station, the Lake Placid police station, or the HCSO headquarters in Liberty Star Plaza on U.S. 27. Bring every out-of-date or no-longer-used pill and get rid of them.
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