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Today Is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Update Date: Oct 27, 2013 08:33 PM EDT

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is this Saturday, October 26, 2013. Sites all around the United States are offering services in which you can safely dispose of expired or unused prescription medications. 

"The abuse of prescription medication is one of the biggest drug problems in the United States today," said Sheila Brocavich, an assistant clinical professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at St. John's University in New York City.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said in a news release that these sites will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time.

Last year, "On April 27, 742,497 pounds (371 tons) of prescription medications were collected from members of the public at more than 5,829 locations manned by 4,312 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies that partnered with DEA on the event," said the DEA in a news release. "When added to the collections from DEA's previous five Take-Back events, more than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation."

To find a site near you, you can go to the DEA website or call 1-800-882-9539.

"Soaring rates of abuse of prescription drugs-especially painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin-are a key reason for the annual event," reported Healthday. "Abuse rates in the United States are alarmingly high, the DEA said, with 6.8 million Americans abusing prescription drugs-nearly twice as many as those using cocaine, heroin, inhalants and hallucinogens combined."

According to Healthday, studies show that the top reason for prescription drug abuse is a result of family and friends taking from home medicine cabinets.
Brocavich of St. John's provided some valuable tips to help in the prevention of prescription drug abuse.

"Changes in children's behavior or grades can be a sign of drug abuse," said Brocavich. "If you discover that your children have loose medication, take it to the pharmacy for identification or look it up on a drug-identification website."

Taking an inventory of your medications can also help you know the amount you have if anything goes missing said Brocavich. In addition she said pain medications should be disposed of via being flushed down the toilet or taking it to a take-back program such as the ones law enforcement agencies provide.

"It's very important for parents to talk with the kids in their lives about the danger of abusing prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and by safeguarding and properly disposing of unused medications," Brocavich said in a university news release.

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