The War On Opioids Now Includes Toddlers, Teens, and Free Prescription Take-Back

Drop the Drugs Volunteers at a Community Event
Common medications found in the home are the leading cause of child poisonings and teen addiction to prescription drugs. The dangers of prescription pain relievers like opioids dominate the headlines but any medications left on nightstands or stored in medicine cabinets may pose a risk to family members. Safely disposing of unneeded drugs at approved drop-off sites is only one step toward eliminating this public health crisis. What more can we do?

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Txylo -- Today, we are in a public health battle so critical that a Sesame Street muppet named Karli recently confessed she is in foster care because her mother is struggling with opioid addiction. Sadder than this news is the fact medications found in the home are the leading cause of child poisoning. When 2-5 year olds must learn about prescription pain relievers, we have a war America cannot withdraw from—ever. And yes, there is something you can do.

OxyContin™, Percocet™, and hydrocodone may be the poster pills, but America's drug abuse epidemic includes common prescriptions we don't think twice about leaving on the kitchen counter. Other prescription drugs frequently abused include anti-anxiety medication, stimulants used to treat attention-deficit disorder, sleep aides, and sedatives. Teens between the ages of 13-16 take advantage of easy access to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the home for a cheap high. Taken alone or in combination with alcohol, OTC drugs like cough medicine, decongestants, acetaminophen, diet pills, and motion sickness pills do more than make you high. Liver failure, seizures, strokes, heart attacks and death are potential consequences.

From the federal government to our schools, steps are being taken to enhance prevention efforts and increase community awareness of drug misuse and abuse. Here are a few important changes that have been implemented, as well as, things you can do today to make a difference for your family.

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Healthcare Providers
  • Doctors in most states are now required by their licensing boards to take courses in opioid prevention and pain management.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued evidence-based opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain.
  • Doctors have significantly reduced the amount of narcotics they prescribe, especially after surgery. Research has shown many of the pain relievers dispensed go unused but are kept in the home.
  • Provider-specific data reports are used to identify doctors who are outliers for education and enforcement. Some doctors are not aware they are prescribing more controlled substances than their peers.
Government and Law Enforcement
  • States like Texas and Colorado have secure Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (state or nationwide electronic databases). Authorized prescribers and pharmacists are required to check patient's history of prescriptions before prescribing or dispensing controlled substances to prevent misuse or addiction.
  • The federal government established the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis with priorities on education, prevention, and treatment.
  • The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) hosts two annual Take-Back days where the public can discard unused or expired medication for free at approved collection sites.
  • Police departments, pharmacies, and hospitals across the United States have year-round, permanent drop-off kiosks for unneeded prescription and OTC medications.
Parents and Patients (Here's your important part)

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  • Safely and promptly discard unused or expired medication. Contrary to popular belief, pills should not be flushed down the drain or tossed in the trash. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strongly discourages this practice as the pharmaceuticals may enter and pass through water treatment systems, contaminating our drinking water.
  • Never use someone else's prescription or allow them to use yours.
  • Follow the directions on your prescription. Don't take more than directed or use it for another condition without consulting your doctor.
  • Don't demand narcotics after medical or dental procedures. Multiple studies have proven most acute pain can be managed with non-opioid medication. Feeling some discomfort after surgery is as normal as feeling some muscle soreness after an intense workout.
  • Securely store medications in the home or office. Locked cabinets or containers are the best way to prevent misuse.  Simply placing medication out of sight deters friends, relatives, and visitors from "taking" pills to abuse or sell.
  • Keep an inventory of medication. Know how many pills you have. Dispense medication to your children or anyone who is mentally impaired. Don't allow them to self-medicate. Never call medication "candy."
We can move from empathy to action and remain vigilant. In the words of author Catherine Pulsifer, let's "focus on fixing the problem, never focus on the blame. Problems are only resolved when solutions are sought."

About the author:

In January 2019, Dr. Monica Anderson, a dentist, and author in Grand Prairie, Texas, launched an awareness campaign called Drop The Drugs™ to educate consumers about the importance of secure storage and safe disposal of unused drugs. In less than one year, Drop The Drugs turned into an established nonprofit w/ 501(c)3 status, complete with a team full of dedicated team members, volunteers and partners in Law Enforcement. To learn more about the campaign and how to get involved to spread the message, visit

Find us on social media:
Facebook: /dropthedrugs
Twitter: @dropthedrugsusa

Chelsea Kretz

Source: Drop The Drugs
Filed Under: Medical, Health

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