Drug Abuse Prevention
The National Drug Take Back Day has been very successful in collecting tons of unused and expired medicines all around the U.S. The annual event has been conduced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since 2010.
With the success of take-back initiatives such as the DEA-administered events, a number of counties in Indiana are now installing permanent drop-off boxes for prescription drugs that are either expired or unused. Marion County is the latest in a strong of Indiana localities that have supported the drive against prescription drug abuse.
The drop-off box in Marion County is jointly handled by Drug Free Indiana and the county’s Sheriff’s Department. “Drugs that are leftover… in medicine cabinets… our youngsters can get a hold of. When I’m talking youngsters, I mean toddlers and on up,” said Sheriff John Layton in a news release.
The move came after Indiana figured in the top five states with the highest deaths due to drug overdose.
The Marion County Jail serves as the location of the drop-off box in the said Indiana county. Other central counties in the state have already installed their own boxes.
The rising statistics of drug addiction in the country especially in Bay area heightened the attention of public health officials, law enforcers, and substance abuse specialists during their recent summit in San Francisco, California.
They blamed prescription drugs abuse as the forefront of the problems, which can lead to more heroin addiction on teens if they cannot regulate the issuance of drug prescription to teenagers and young adults.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the deaths of accidental overdose from prescribed medicine have bloated to more than quadruple since 1999. Meanwhile, Drugfree.org’s The Partnership CEO Steve Pasierb said that misuse of prescription drugs is the primary cause of overdose deaths and heroin addictions, as revealed in a news item.
More problems on young adults and teens are prevalent because they often believe that taking these pills are safe as they are legally advised by doctors. However, when they cannot find the medicine, they switch to illegal substances and get hooked to heroin instead.
The group is now in the first stage of tracking down doctors who are making profits from issuing prescriptions drugs to anyone. They are also coordinating with pharmacies to report any unusual prescription that they find suspicious and fraudulent.
District attorneys are calling all doctors to religiously use the statewide database to check the prescription history of the patient and participate closely in the drive to prevent the proliferation of abuse of prescription medication.
Since 2010, the National Take Back Initiative has educated Americans about the dangers of leaving excess prescribed drugs inside their homes, and how a correct disposal method can become the first step to preventing prescription drug abuse. The most recent campaign was conducted last October 26, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Several counties and states have put their full support to this government activity:
- In Baltimore, the entire police force has coordinated with the DEA to push the event to the limelight, by offering their stations as drop off locations for those who want to throw away their unused medication. Lt. Michael Brothers of the Anne Arundel County Police shared in a news release that they will not interrogate locals who are planning to dispose of their medicine at the police stations. “We will not ask any questions. You can place them in the box and you can leave. No questions asked,” said Lt. Brothers.
- Government personnel and sheriff’s deputies at Harford County were assisted by DEA in transforming the county office parking lot into a drop off site. Doug Ellington of the DEA expressed his sentiments about the issue. “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this county… Non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as a drug of abuse,” Ellington said in a news item.
- The city of Huntington in West Virginia was able to amass about 30 pounds of prescription drugs across three Take Back stations. Cpl. Steve Vincent of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department was surprised with the turnout. “We’ve been going for about an hour-and-a-half and we’ve already got two boxes filled up,” Vincent said.
There seems to be an app for everything and soon fighting marijuana abuse could just be a matter of turning to smartphones.
Researchers from the University at Buffalo was recently awarded $715,500 by National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop and study a smartphone app that promotes exercise as a positive alternative to marijuana use.
Dr. R. Lorraine Collins, primary investigator on the grant and an associate dean for research and professor in the UB Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, an app would be very effective in promoting physical activities since most young adults today spend a great deal of their time with mobile devices.
According to a university news release, the grant will run from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015. Part of the study is assessing the possibility and reviewing the “effects of a four-week intervention for the individuals being studied that includes personalized feedback about marijuana use and participation in four in-person counseling sessions focused on decreasing marijuana intake.”
Dr. Collins explained that her interest in marijuana use began during a previous research which revealed that many heavy drinkers also use marijuana on a regular basis. In that study, participants who abused alcohol ” used cell phones and interactive voice response (IVR) technology to provide three weeks of real-time, self-report data on their mood, alcohol and marijuana use, motives and social context.”
“This newest NIDA grant to develop the smart phone app has evolved out of our use of cell phones to collect data in real time, as well as our plan to develop an effective intervention that can make a difference in the lives of young people who want to cut down on their marijuana use,” Dr. Collins said.
A legislation aimed at fighting dextromethorphan abuse has recently won the support of New York lawmakers, and is now at Governor Andre Cuomo’s desk for final approval.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, directs any retail establishment to prohibit the sale of products containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to persons under 18 without a valid prescription.
“Too many of our teens are abusing this medicine to get high,” Jaffee said during a press conference at South Orangetown Middle School early this month.
Jaffee began working on the bill two years ago after hearing stories about the negative impact of DXM abuse. She did her research on the topic, review the dangers of peer pressure, and assess how poor discussion about the problem is destroying the lives of the country’s future generation.
Similar legislation is already in place several counties including Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau County. But Jaffee’s bill will enforce the age restriction on a state level. Once Gov. Cuomo signs the bill, a $250 fine will be imposed to those who will be caught violating the provisions of the new law.
“I think the bill is going to make a huge difference. It will deny access. And once you deny access, you raise awareness,” Jaffe noted. “It’s a very important step.”