April 11 Is ‘Drug Take Back Day’
Turn in Your Unused Prescriptions and Make Your Home Safer
As many as one in five teenagers say they’ve taken a prescription drug without having a prescription for it, according to research conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. What’s more, the same research shows that this behavior cuts across geographic, racial, ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries.
The problem is a local one, especially when, according to the Howard County Department of Police, two-thirds of teens who abuse prescription drugs are getting them from cabinets at home.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the frequently abused drugs by high school seniors (excluding tobacco and alcohol), according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH).
NIH studies show that one in 12 high school seniors reported nonmedical use of Vicodin; one in 20 reported abuse of OxyContin. When asked how prescription pain relievers were obtained for nonmedical use, 59% of 12th graders said they were given to them by a friend or relative. Contrary to popular belief, the number of young people obtaining them over the Internet was negligible.
Opioids — or medications that relieve pain — are both easily prescribed and over-prescribed, said Joan Webb Scornaienchi, executive director of HC DrugFree.
“You have a dental procedure, and you come out of there with 30 pills,” she said. “You take one or two. The rest end up in the medicine cabinet, in the kitchen, or on top of the dresser.”
The young people Scornaienchi talks to report they start abusing prescription medications at ages 12 to 13. “Or they’ve been prescribed their own opioids because they’ve broken a bone. You can get addicted in a couple of days.”
How can we keep our teenagers — not to mention the millions of adults that abuse prescription drugs — safer? One way is permanently dispose of unused prescriptions so accessing them is not so easy.
Mark the Calendar
Drug Take Back Day is April 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the nine Howard County locations listed below. (Please note that needles, syringes and EpiPens can only be delivered to the HC DrugFree site.) Residents who attend the Drug Take Back events can dispose of unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications safely and anonymously.
— HC DrugFree, Wilde Lake Village Center, 5305 Village Center Drive, Columbia 21044
— Harper’s Choice Community Policing Office, 5485 Harpers Farm Road, Columbia 21044
— Long Reach Community Policing Office, 8775 Cloudleap Court, Columbia 21045
— Oakland Mills Community Policing Office, 5820 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia 21045
— Owen Brown Community Policing Office, 7154 Cradlerock Way, Columbia 21045
— North Laurel Community Policing Office, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel 20723
— Howard County Police Northern District, 3410 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City 21043
— Howard County Police Southern District, 11226 Scaggsville Road, Laurel 20723
— Gary Arthur Community Center, 2400 Route 97, Cooksville 21723
After Drug Take Back Day, Howard County Police will install three permanent disposal boxes at the Northern District, Southern District and Gary Arthur Community Center locations. The new boxes will be fixtures maintained by the police department and will allow residents to drop off unwanted medications 365 days a year.
Whether residents attend Drug Take Back Day or drop their unused medications into the boxes on another day, medications will be disposed of in an environmentally safe way.
No More Junk in the Trunk
Previous Drug Take Back Days have netted an extraordinary amount of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and needles, said Scornaienchi.
“We’ve literally had people pull up with their entire trunks filled up with needles they had used to treat diabetes. Apparently, they’d never taken any needles out of their home before. The bag was so heavy one guy couldn’t get it out of the car.”
In 2014 alone, two Drug Take Back Days gathered nearly 2,000 pounds of drugs, said Scornaienchi. The previous two years netted nearly 2,000 additional pounds.
One of the three permanent disposal boxes is being donated by CVS Pharmacy through the company’s Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program to help safely remove unwanted or expired medications from the community.