Medicines play an important role in treating various kinds of illnesses, however, an incorrect disposal process can lead to an accidental misuse among patients as well as others. The leftover pills, when taken incorrectly or accidentally have the potential to land someone in the emergency department of a hospital. Misuse and abuse of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines remain high in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 6.5 million Americans in 2014 misused a prescription drug and 12 percent American teenagers indicated a lifetime use of OTC cough syrup for getting high. A major cause of abuse and misuse of prescription drugs is the unwanted or unused medications left in the household cabinet.
As per the Drug Abuse Warning Network, as compared to cocaine or heroin, opioids contribute to a greater number of overdose deaths in the U.S. Among individuals aged 35-54, accidental drug overdose is the primary cause of injury-related deaths. From 2004 to 2010, there was an increase in emergency room visits among individuals under 20 years of age due to abuse of prescription medicines.
People overdose on medicine to cope with anxiety and stress, to experiment with prescription drugs out of curiosity or due to peer pressure.
Countering drug misuse through efficient drug disposal process
Many cases of prescription and OTC drug abuse are a result of easy access to unused medications left at home. Thus, proper drug disposal is essential to get rid of drug misuse. Removing unwanted or unused drugs from home can help strengthen efforts to lower drug abuse and further help in removing any temptation to abuse prescription or OTC drugs.
Unfortunately, so far, there are no uniform guidelines in the U.S. for the safe and acceptable disposal of unused opioids, though many government agencies have come up with guidelines to properly discard unused opioids. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), controlled substances must be discarded under the supervision of pharmacists or the police.
The WHO also stated that such harmful substances must not be allowed into the public domain to avoid their misuse. Such substances should be rendered unusable, discarded in a landfill or incinerated. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, unused drugs should be mixed with undesirable substances, sealed into a disposable container and put in the trash.
Another method of safely discarding unused drugs is through participation in the medicine take-back events. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically organizes national prescription drug take-back events at certain collection sites for safe disposal of prescription drugs.
Recently, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in partnership with Roseman University of Health Sciences, donated 60,000 drug-deactivation pouches to help combat prescription opioid abuse in Southern Nevada. The pouches, which can hold up to 45 pills, use carbon to deactivate active ingredients in the drugs. Post adding medicines, the user can fill the pouch with water, seal it and put it in the bin without the fear of drug misuse or environment contamination. The pouches are just one of the ways to try and reduce the high number of prescription drug-related deaths in the state.
Help is close at hand
Leftovers pills can result from hoarding of medications by patients or unused medications left due to non-conformance to the doctor’s prescription. These pills are a major cause of concern for humans, animals and the environment. Leftover pills when not disposed of properly or when left unattended can be consumed accidentally by children. When thrown in the garbage, these can be consumed by pets or wild animals, or when discarded improperly can even harm the environment.
If you know someone who is addicted to prescription drugs and is seeking treatment, contact the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline to find the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in U.S.A. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-450-1557 or chat online with our representatives to know more about the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in your area.