Pounds of prescription drugs in Delaware make positive impact

Since May 2010 to September 2012, more than 22 thousand pounds of prescription drugs are now out of the reach of many children, drug abusers and criminals in Delaware.  The state’s “Prescription Drug Take-Back” drive has made this possible since it encourages people to go into their medicine cabinets and trash unwanted or unused prescriptions safely. 

The most recent event took place last week on September 29th, which turned out to be the second largest collection of prescription medicine in state history.  About 30 sites were set up statewide so people could dispose bottles of pills that eventually totaled 4,561 pounds.

“Collectively, we are reducing the potential for prescription drug abuse and keeping unwanted medications from entering our water supply,” said Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del. “Drug Take-Back Days are one way to give Delawareans a safe and secure way to dispose of their expired and unused medications and we are looking at ways to help people dispose of their old medications in a more permanent ongoing way.”

Officials say “Drug Take-Back” days are important to addressing the issues of prescription drug diversion and abuse, and will only increase awareness of this critical public health issue. Several organizations are involved with the effort to raise awareness such as the Governor’s Office, the state departments of Health and Social Services, State and Safety and Homeland Security, the Attorney General’s Office, the federal DEA, and the Delaware Cancer Consortium.

“Prescription drug abuse can destroy families and endanger communities,” said Attorney General Beau Biden, whose Medicaid Fraud Control Unit operated collection sites in each of three counties. “Properly and safely disposing of prescription drugs keeps the medication from falling into the wrong hands.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are  high. It’s said that more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, heroin, inhalants and other dangerous substances combined. In fact, it hits close to home even in Delaware.  In 2009, Delaware Health Statistics Center reported 137 deaths in the state, all related to drug overdoses. Prescription drugs were blamed on eighty percent of those drug overdose deaths in that year alone.

You can learn more about future Drug Take-Back Day events or how to safely dispose medications by contacting the Delaware Division of Public Health’s Healthy Homes Program at 1-800-464-HELP (4357).

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