A recent statewide prescription drug Take Back effort cleared more than 20,000 pounds of drugs from medicine cabinets with the help of volunteers across the Natural State., Department of Drug Enforcement, and local law enforcement agencies.
Scooping up more than 10 tons of drugs was a major victory, according to state and federal officials who said it was the second largest take back in the program’s 10-year history.
Prescription drug abuse is a family disease as 42% of teens have misused or abused a prescription drug found in their parent’s medicine cabinet, according to Takeback.org.
Every day in the U.S., 2,500 youth (12 to 17) abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time, the organization noted on its website.
The beginnings of drug use often aligns with access and family medicine cabinets are among the first place curious adolescents gain access. Prescription medications are the drug of choice among 12 and 13 year olds, according to local, state and national data.
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S. today, according to TakeBack.org. The abuse of medicines by teens often results in medical emergencies or fatal overdoses. Most abusers of medicines, including teens, get the drugs from a friend or relative – not from a drug dealer.
Following the collection day on April 25, the Arkansas National Guard’s Counterdrug Program and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration transported the medications to Covanta Energy in Huntsville, Ala., where they were destroyed at no charge as a part of the Prescription for Safety program.
TakeBack.org also notes that medications returned in Take Back events are removed as potential sources of theft, diversion, and accidental ingestion in homes.
Over the past decade the collective results of statewide Take Back events have removed more than 72 tons of unneeded medication, or approximately 201 million pills. Arkansas ranks No. 4 in the nation for the per capita weight collected.
Drug abuse prevention advocates said there are more than 150 permanent prescription drug drop boxes in Arkansas, and individuals with medications to dispose can find the site nearest them online.
There are 12 permanent drop box sites in Benton and Washington counties. There are six permanent drop off sites in Sebastian and Crawford counties.
Benton County volunteers rounded up 147 pounds during its collection day which was held April 25 at the Boys and Girls Club on Central Avenue in Bentonville. Local participants said turnout among the student volunteers was a nice surprise since prescription drug abuse often starts as early as 11 years of age.
The Drug-Free Benton County Coalition reported 24 teen volunteers hailing from high schools and middle schools throughout the county participated in the four-hour event. The Northwest Arkansas Take Back event also took place the same day as the Komen Race for the Cure, the Red and White Game at the University of Arkansas and the Walmart FLW.