America is facing an unprecedented drug abuse epidemic fueled by prescription medications found in homes across the country. According to the CDC, prescription drug overdoses claimed the lives of more than 15,500 Americans in 2009 – nearly four times the number of people who died from these drugs in 1999.
In 2010, about 2,100 young people per day abused prescription drugs for the first time, and the majority of these pills came from friends, family, or in the home. Teens aren’t the only ones abusing medication; in 2010, Americans began using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at a rate of about 6,600 people per day.
With more people dying from drug-induced deaths than car accidents in America, it is vitally important that we do what is necessary to prevent drug abuse.
Three out of four prescription drug overdoses involve opioid pain relievers, and, as we mentioned earlier this week, more than 65 percent of people who abuse medication obtain the drugs—for free, or without asking—from friends or family. With prescription drug abuse now at epidemic levels, it is more important than ever to remove unused and or unwanted prescription drugs from your home.
Tomorrow, Saturday, April 28, Director Kerlikowske will participate in the fourth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, with scheduled visits to four collection locations in the Seattle area. For the event, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), collection sites around the country will allow residents to safely dispose of unneeded or unwanted prescription drugs in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible way.
Approximately 377,086 pounds of unwanted or expired medications were turned in at more than 5,000 sites during DEA’s most recent Take-Back event in October 2011. In all, state, local and tribal partners have collected nearly 500 tons of pills during Take-Back events in 2010 and 2011.
For more information about Take-Back Day, go here. To locate a take-back site near you, please use the DEA’s site locator. To learn more about the Administration’s strategy for combating prescription drug abuse, see the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan.