How many times have you been prescribed pain medication to help you heal after an injury or surgery? And if so, we bet you probably felt better before you even finished the prescription, which left you with a half-finished bottle of pills that’s likely been collecting dust in the back of your medicine cabinet. Yes, it’s a common story that plays out in homes across the country. Well, rather than stockpiling unused, unneeded or expired meds, get into spring cleaning mode and clean out the cabinet. And when you do? Do it responsibly.
On Saturday, April 29, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will provide you the opportunity to safely and conveniently dispose of unused and/or expired prescriptions, and participation in the event essentially removes a serious health hazard from your home.
The Opioid Crisis and Drug Addiction
Tennessee is in the midst of an opioid crisis. In 2015, there were enough opioid prescriptions written in Tennessee to cover every man, woman and child in the state. And according to the Tennessee Department of Health, of the 1,451 Tennesseans who died from drug overdoses in 2015, 72 percent of those deaths involved opioids. Opioids, which include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, heroin and codeine, work to relieve pain by reducing signals to the brain and interacting with the opioid receptors on nerve cells to induce euphoria. And without question, opioids are dangerous and highly addictive if not taken correctly; users can quickly become physically dependent on them and develop a tolerance, furthering the need take more and more to chase that same relief, which is why keeping them out of the wrong hands and proper disposal is key.
Most people don’t think twice about tossing unused pain pills into the medicine cabinet, but leaving medicine in easily accessible places can be a dangerous habit. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services reports that 55 percent of those using prescription pain medicine recreationally got them from a friend or relative. And drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, regardless of wealth or status, and it can happen to those you might never imagine could become addicted. The dangers are real. A 2016 survey conducted by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee showed that 64 percent of Tennesseans know someone who has become addicted to prescription pain medication.
About Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
In an effort to combat this epidemic, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation and Count It! Lock It! Drop It!™ are taking part in the National Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 29, 2017. These nationwide events, which happen twice a year and are highly successful and effective, encourage those with unneeded prescription medicines to remove them from their homes and dispose of them in a participating location. During October’s take-back event, 43,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected across the state. That’s more than 20 tons. (TONS!)
Although it may seem like a small step, disposing of unneeded medication helps fight the epidemic that is gripping our state. Here’s where to go and the details you need to know:
Saturday, April 29, 2017
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saint Thomas West Hospital
4230 Harding Pike, A-214
Nashville, Tennessee 37205
Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital
Midtown Express Pharmacy
300 20th Ave. N.
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
3010 West End Ave.
2819 Nolensville Pike
2500 Gallatin Ave.
3130 Clarksville Pike
2611 Franklin Pike
7601 Highway 70S
Substances accepted at take-back events include:
- Unused or expired prescriptions that you legally possess
- Unused or expired medications that were prescribed to a person in your household
Substances not accepted at take-back events:
- Illicit drugs, such as marijuana, heroin and LSD
- Insulin syringes or other medical sharps and needles
- Asthma inhalers
- Iodine-containing medications
- Mercury-containing thermometers
If you’re unable to attend a take-back event, find a permanent drop box location with this finder tool. If you’re currently taking pain medication, please visit countitlockitdropit.org to learn how you can keep your medicine safe.
This article is sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.