Drug diversion — the use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes — is a serious issue. As you can imagine, the problem has multiple roots and ramifications, as causes are often attributed to anything from from social and economic conditions, political inaction and an array of psychological factors. However, one of the components of this problem that proved the hardest to control is those prescription medications themselves: those which are already in the home, but are not used as prescribed or became obsolete over time. In fact, the majority of users of opioid don’t buy their drugs of choice through street dealers, but instead find their fix through close suppliers such as friends and family members, or else in their own home medicine cabinet.
Let’s pause here to take a look at the reality of opioid medication misuse in numbers.
Opioid Epidemic In Numbers
Forty-five persons die every day through overdosing on doctor-prescribed painkillers (opioids). That’s more deaths per day than those resulting from heroin and cocaine overdoses together.
In a single month, 4.3 million Americans engaged in non-medical use of prescription painkillers. This statistics is according to a study published in 2014 by the SAMHSA.
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Every year, at least 1.2 million Emergency Room visits are the consequence of the non-medical use of prescription drugs. According to data from 2011, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimated that almost 40% of those visits involved opioid — a ratio that had tripled from a similar study done in 2005.
Not all users are addicts. As Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director at the Center for Network Therapy, puts it:
“Storing medications that are no longer needed may lead to serious health problems if teenagers or even young adults in their homes ingest them accidentally or use them in an attempt to self-medicate because of the misconception that it is safe to use as it was prescribed by a physician.”
You can do your part to minimize this social issue by getting rid of medication left in your medicine cabinet. The best way to do so is to take medicine that is no longer required back to your pharmacy. The personnel will dispose of the medication properly and safely. Putting medication in the trash or flushing it in the sewers has an impact on the environment, as opioid tend to accumulate in the ecosystem.