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How Providers Can Get Involved in ‘National Prescription Drug Take Back Day’ and Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic

America…we have a problem. With drugs. Big time. Our nation has been hit hard with a prescription drug addiction epidemic that has resulted in the loss of 700,000 people between 1999-2017, according to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control. As we become more aware of the ways that prescription medications can be over-prescribed, illicitly obtained, and abused the Drug Enforcement Administration has come up with a worthwhile effort to help curb the problem.

Twice annually the DEA promotes the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. October 26, 2019, marks the second such event this year, with a goal of collecting about 450 tons of unused or expired medications at over 5,000 disposal sites across the country. To date, through these collection and disposal efforts, the DEA has removed nearly 12 million pounds of prescription drugs from circulation.

The reason for this effort is clear, and that is to save lives. Leftover prescription medications too often find their way onto the streets, as they can be stolen out of medicine cabinets and then resold. Unused medications pose risks for seniors who might become confused and accidentally consume the wrong medication. Suicide risk is also heightened with prescription drugs available for individuals in distress to potentially access.

As providers in the mental health or medical field, it is an exciting event to get behind and support. Many patients possess unneeded prescription drugs that could potentially be diverted or abused at some point. Staff members are encouraged to do their part in helping curb the opioid crisis, and all prescription medication misuse, by becoming involved with the upcoming National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Here’s how:

  • Visit the DEA’s website for a handy partnership toolbox with multiple free materials to help promote the cause at your office, such as:
    • Informative pamphlets for in-office placement:
    • Social media templates for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the DEA National Rx Take Back logo.
    • Posters for examination rooms or lobby.
  • Find a collection site near you.
  • Send out an email blast to your patient base to announce and promote the event and provide patients with local collection sites.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 18 million Americans misused prescription medications. Providers can actively become involved as part of the solution to this serious prescription drug epidemic through promoting the DEA’s efforts to get these drugs out of circulation. Over the ensuing weeks, access the handy tools provided to create powerful social media or email posts that will inspire patients to turn in their unused or expired prescription medications on October 26th.

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