Everyday people have the opportunity to help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths, health officials say.
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 24. Sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the event’s message is celebrated year-round in Richland County, North Dakota.
“We have out local take back locations,” Public Health Nurse Miranda Andel said. “You can drop off your medications at any Richland County pharmacy, the Wahpeton Police Department or the Richland County Law Enforcement Center in Wahpeton.”
Participating pharmacies, Andel said, include Wahpeton Drug, 508 Dakota Ave., Corner Drug, 522 Dakota Ave., and Thrifty White, 387 11th St., all in Wahpeton; Hankinson Drug, 309 Main St. in Hankinson, North Dakota; and Julie’s Pharmacy and Home Decor, 47 Wiley Ave. S. in Lidgerwood, North Dakota.
Misuse of prescription drugs is a crucial public safety and public health issue according to the DEA. The administration’s website includes information from a 2019 national survey on drug use and health:
• 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers
• 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers/sedatives
• 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants
“The survey also showed that a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet,” the DEA stated.
While disposing of medication at a professional site is recommended, safe disposal at home is possible. Prescription medication, even if unused or expired, should never be flushed down a toilet or sent down a drain.
“We have the Deterra medication disposal bags, which can be found at the pharmacies and Richland County Public Health. These bags are safe. They’re not going to harm the environment, a person can’t get into them and they are available for free. We want to make this as convenient as possible,” Andel said.
For further ease, take back locations and Deterra bags are available anytime, Andel said. Leaders recommend greater accessibility in disposing of medications.
“(It’s) great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in — safely and anonymously — a record amount of prescription drugs,” the DEA stated.
The 19th Annual National Take Back was held in October 2020. According to the DEA, it was well-received:
• 4,153 law enforcement agencies participated
• 4,587 collection sites were available
• 985,392 pounds, or 492.7 tons, of items including prescription drugs were collected
“We do hope to see a good amount of participation this year,” Andel said.
Residents who do use medication are advised to lock up and monitor their items.
“Keep medication out of sight and in a safe and secure place,” the North Dakota Department of Human Services previously stated. “Keep track of your medication and take only as directed. Monitor your remaining doses. Don’t share your medication with others.”
The Mayo Clinic has a list of common symptoms of prescription drug abuse. They include:
• opioids — constipation, nausea, feelings of euphoria, a slowed breathing rate, drowsiness and confusion
• anti-anxiety medications and sedatives — drowsiness, confusion, unsteady walking, slurred speech, poor concentration and dizziness
• stimulants — increased alertness, euphoria, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, high body temperature, reduced appetite. insomnia and agitation
“Talk with your doctor if you think you may have a problem with prescription drug use,” the Mayo Clinic stated. “You may feel embarrassed to talk about it — but remember that medical professionals are trained to help you, not judge you. It’s easier to tackle the problem early before it becomes an addiction and leads to more-serious problems.”
For additional information, contact Richland County Public Health at 701-642-7735.