Opioid medications bind to the area of the brain that control pain and emotions, driving up levels of dopamine in the brain’s reward areas and producing an intense feeling of euphoria. As the brain becomes used to the feelings, it often takes more and more of the drug to produce the same levels of pain relief and well-being, leading to dependence and, later, addiction.
Opioids like Vicodin and Percocet are commonly prescribed to dull pain after medical procedures and to treat chronic pain. They also commonly languish in medicine cabinets, sometimes for years, making easy pickings for someone with an addiction.
What are consumers to do if they want a safe alternative to flushing unwanted drugs down the toilet or tossing them into the garbage? Drugs that are flushed can taint our rivers, lakes and water supplies. Drugs in the trash also may harm the environment, and can be found by children, pets – and even adults looking for a high.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day now occurs twice a year. But what can we do the rest of the year? There are a growing number of year-round disposal site in California, but the rest of the country is lagging behind.
To find take-back sites that definitely accept controlled drugs, check the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s website at www.deadiversion.sudoj.gov/drug.disposal/ or call 800-882-9539.
The drugstore chain Walgreens has announced plans to install medication disposal bins at 500 stores nationwide. The effort began last month in California with 50 stores, says Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso.
The bins are available during pharmacy hours – usually 24-four hours – and accept prescription medications, including controlled drugs, and over-the-counter medications. They don’t accept sharp objects.
“Our goal is to get at the misuse of medications as well as to help curb the rise in overdose deaths,” Caruso says. Don’t Rush To Flush has integrated participating Walgreens stores into its search results, or find a list of stores here: http://bit.ly/246LNQ4.
On an environmental note, this is one of the strongest arguments against drinking tap water, it is often contaminated with prescription drugs. Estrogen metabolites from pesticides and industrial uses far overshadows this threat, but it is an ever growing problem for our fresh water supply.
Please take advantage of Walgreen’s disposal program when it becomes available in your area. Ask your pharmacist when their store will offer a similar program. Don’t limit your disposal to controlled substances like opioids, most OTC drugs have negative effects on the environment.
The Bottom Line:
Be an advocate for this program of drug disposal. It’s a change that will benefit all of us and may save lives as well.
Source: June 7, 2016 Kaiser Health News
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