OCTOBER 20, 2016, MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) – Keeping unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs increases risk for prescription drug misuse. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, more than 70% of prescription pain drug abuse involved drugs obtained from a friend or relative, and nearly one third of suicide attempts among veterans involve prescription medication.
Navy personnel and their families can reduce these risks by safely disposing their drugs during National Take-Back Day, scheduled for Oct. 22, 2016. The event encourages people to turn in expired or unwanted prescription drugs to a local drop-off site anonymously and free of charge.
“If not properly disposed of, unused or expired prescription medications are a potential source of harm for our Sailors and our communities,” said LaNorfeia Parker, Deputy Director of the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Office. “Keeping these medications-including those that have been legitimately prescribed but are beyond 180 days after the dispense date-in your possession can increase the likelihood of misuse.”
“Dispose Properly” is one of four steps that the Navy’s Prescription for Discharge campaign promotes to prevent misuse and abuse of prescription medication, in accordance with the Navy’s zero tolerance policy.
“Take-Back Day is an opportunity for us to take an ‘all-hands’ approach to safeguarding ourselves and each other,” said Parker. “Flushing medication down the toilet can contaminate the water supply, while placing it in the trash runs the risk of others using the medication.”
Recognizing the need for safe disposal, the Military Health System recently announced that it will establish a Drug Take-Back program to help beneficiaries properly dispose of their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications at all military treatment facility (MTF) pharmacies in United States and U.S. Territories. Sailors can find information about whether their MTFs are participating by contacting the hospitals directly. While participation at MTFs is encouraged, Sailors and their family members can also drop off unused or expired medications at participating sites in their local communities. Collection sites in local communities can be found by visiting the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control and searching for local collector locations.
At the Take-Back Day held last April, Americans turned in 447 tons (over 893,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,400 sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 11 previous Take-Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 6.4 million pounds-about 3,200 tons-of pills.
The Navy’s Prescription for Discharge campaign website provides tips for all Navy personnel on the safe and proper use of prescription drugs, offering materials for distribution and display at Navy medical clinics, pharmacies, waiting rooms, barracks, etc. The website also offers resources for Navy leadership, medical personnel, and drug abuse prevention personnel to present at safety stand downs, briefings, or community health fairs.
Sailors can also watch and share videos from the Prescription for Discharge campaign on the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention YouTube page. The Prescription for Discharge training video details the warning signs and facts about prescription drug misuse in the Navy. The Public Service Announcement “Flooding the Brain” describes how prescription drug misuse and abuse overwhelms normal brain chemical levels, while “Toxic Agents” explains the dangers of chemical build up and overload caused by prescription drug misuse and abuse.