The state Office of Drug Control Policy is asking you to take some time and look through your home for outdated and unused medications. Spokesman Dale Woolery says this weekend is the second “Drug Take Back Day” this year.
“This Saturday will provide Iowans with an opportunity to clean out medicine cabinets and get rid of medicines they may not be using, but could cause problems if left around,” Woolery says.
Woolery says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration started sponsoring the days about four years ago after prescription drug abuse started becoming an issue. “The diversion of prescription drugs, in particular controlled prescription drugs like pain relievers, has led to an increase abuse and addiction. And unfortunately, tragically, event some overdose deaths. And we’ve had more of those than ever before,” Woolery says. “It can start innocently with someone who takes a pain reliever for a broken arm, but it can lead to a dependence. It depends on how it is used and for how long.”
The Iowa Department of Public Health show overdose deaths in the state related to methadone, other opioids and other synthetic narcotics –primarily pain relievers– increased to an all-time high of 77 in 2013. Heroin deaths jumped from eight in 2012 to a record high of 20 in 2013.
Woolery says the prescription drugs have become a target. “We’ve had reports in Iowa of young people getting in to medicine cabinets of parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends and taking meds that weren’t theirs,” according to Woolery. “We’ve also had reports of people maybe going into and open house and pretend to be interested in buying a home that was for sale. Maybe go into the restroom and take medicine. Now, it doesn’t happen very often, but we are trying to safeguard against that.”
The ODCP’s concerns have been supported by the amount of prescription drugs turned in each year. The numbers have been rising. “We’ve seen about 21 tons of unused medicines disposed of at these various Take Back events over these last three to four years. The most recent event this last spring, netted over four tons,” Woolery says. Woolery says this will be the last event that is sponsored by the DEA due to some changes in regulations.
Most Iowa sites collecting unused medicines will be open Saturday from 10 A.M. to 2 p.m. To find the Iowa Take Back drop-off site nearest you, or to get more information on how to prevent or get help for prescription drug abuse, go to: www.IowaMedicineTLC.org.