The Region 3 Prevention Resource Center and its fiscal agent, The Council on Alcohol & Drugs in Dallas, recently kicked off a 6-month prevention/education campaign that addresses the disturbing trend in the misuse of painkillers and other prescription medications111. In brief, here is the shocking history: In 1971, President Nixon cited the increase of narcotic deaths from less than 200 in 1960 to 1,000 in 1970. No one at that time could have predicted how the continuous creation of synthesized drugs over the years would make drug enforcement and prevention strategies more difficult. Since 2000, the rate of drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids. From 2000-2014, more than half a million Americans died from drug overdoses, and opioids made up 61% of them. Many people who start by misusing prescription painkillers move from pills to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to acquire. Between 2010-2014, heroin overdoses tripled in the United States. Today, more people in the United States die from drug overdoses than in car crashes. (CDC, 2016)
Given the impact of substance misuse on public health and the increased risk for long-term medical consequences, including substance use disorders, our efforts to prevent it from starting in the first place are critical. This prevention/education campaign, #BeFreeRx, is multi-faceted. It includes: ramping up attention to prescription drugs in our existing school-based and community-based prevention activities; providing conferences and town hall meetings that focus on prescription drug education; encouraging increased attention to the opioid crisis through local television, radio and print media; focusing on prescription drug awareness through social media; reducing availability of unused, expired, and unwanted prescription drugs by promoting safe storage and disposal practices; recruiting new members for coalition-based community mobilization efforts; and, educating law-makers and advocating for policies that prevent the misuse of prescription medications, including pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives.
#BeFreeRx carries the tag line “Learn | Do | Give.” We hope you will follow this campaign and take action in whatever way you can. The health, safety and well-being of our communities and the people we love depend on it.
Two-thirds of teens who report misusing prescription medications get them from friends, family and acquaintances. It’s important to limit access to medicines that may be used for purposes other than what was intended. Lock up medications that have potential for misuse, and properly dispose of unused and expired prescriptions and over-the-counter cough medicine in your home. Be especially careful with medications that are addictive such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants. Talk to your teens about the dangers of using medicines that were not prescribed for them, or taking them in doses not recommended by their doctor.
Permanent Rx Drop Off Locations
Permanent drug drop boxes provide a safe and effective way to dispose of prescription drugs that are no longer needed for their intended purpose. The drugs in the drop box will then be safely and legally incinerated. Click here for locations in North Texas.
Safe Disposal of Medications
If you are unable to visit a permanent drop off location, unused medications can be disposed of at home. To help prevent someone from retrieving discarded medications from the trash, mix the medicine with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, before discarding. Unless the directions on the packaging say otherwise, do not flush medicine down the drain or toilet. To help prevent unauthorized refills, be sure to remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away. For more information on safe disposal click here.
How to Get Help
Click here for a list of resources.