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DEA Providing Sites for Prescription Drug Disposal

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In its continuing effort to stem the growing tide of prescription drug abuse across the nation, the Drug Enforcement Agency has set up 3,400 sites for people to dispose of their old or unused prescriptions.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, and is the DEA’s response to statistics that show that the majority of abused drugs come from home medicine cabinets, and those of family and friends.  However, merely flushing or throwing them out is “unsafe,” according to the agency.

DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhard tells Reuters, "The National Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign will provide a safe way for Americans to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs. "This effort symbolizes DEA's commitment to halting the disturbing rise in addiction caused by their misuse and abuse."

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced earlier this year that admissions to treatment centers for prescription drug abuse increased four-fold from 1998-2008.  Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has revealed that 15.2 million people aged 12 and over took a prescription pain killer, stimulant, tranquilizer or sedative for “non-medical purposes” in 2008.

This sharp increase is not relegated to only certain segments of society; the spike has widely affected persons from all walks of life, regardless of age, education level, or gender.
There are several underlying factors that have fueled the increase in prescription drug abuse, one of which is that some doctors have prescribed strong painkillers normally given to cancer patients, like oxycontin, to patients with migraines and other ailments.

Thomas Mclellan, Deputy Director of National Drug Control Policy states, “Our national prescription drug abuse problem cannot be ignored.   I have worked in the treatment field for the last 35 years, and recent trends regarding the extent of prescription drug abuse are startling. We must work with prescribers, the pharmaceutical industry, and families to help us fight this scourge.”   

Parents of teenagers are specifically urged to keep medications in a safe place, then to dispose of them when no longer needed, as drug abuse among high schools has also risen dramatically.  Raiding Mom and Dad’s medicine cabinet has provided teens with access to drugs they were not prescribed.

Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that to curb addiction among teenagers, parents should:

*Establish strong familial bonds
*Maintain parental involvement in a child’s life
*Provide clear limits and consistently enforce discipline

For those taking part in National Prescription Take Back Day, the DEA urges people to check its website to find local drop off points.

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