This weekend is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This Saturday, Sept. 29, people can bring their unwanted or expired medications — including opioid painkillers — to disposal sites across the country.
The American Dental Association is supporting this effort, and encouraging all dentists to talk with their patients and staffs about safely securing and disposing of unused, unwanted or expired pharmaceuticals.
"This is yet another way that we can be leaders in our communities and do our part to help improve drug abuse awareness," Chicago Dental Society president John Gerding said. "The increase in drug use among our middle through high school aged children is alarming, and an event such as Saturday's is one more step in our battle to stay on top of this problem."
Prescription medications are now the most commonly abused drugs among children ages 12–13, and second to marijuana among young adults, according to 2010 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Studies show that a majority of these drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
Dentists and their staff can help address this problem:
- Tell patients or their caregivers about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
- Encourage patients to visit the Medicine Abuse Project at www.medicineabuseproject.org, where they can learn how to safely secure, monitor and dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications.
- Have a list of local DEA-approved prescription drug disposal sites. You can search by zip code online.
On the last Take-Back Day, April 28, Americans brought a record 276 tons of prescription drugs for proper disposal to more than 5,600 locations.
"Drug-seeking behavior has changed dramatically in recent years," said ADA President William Calnon, in a prepared release. “For that reason, we are also urging dentists to refresh their knowledge about opioid prescribing in the context of modern-day drug seeking behavior."