Our View: Take a close look at your medicine cabinet
October 29, 2013
The participation of the Steamboat Springs Police Department in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday struck us as a very good idea given the growing national trend toward abuse of prescription drugs.
The need to educate adults and children about the dangers of prescription painkillers pops even more into focus when you take a close look at the results of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey conducted at Steamboat Springs High School.
The news, as Steamboat Today reported last week, is that 83 percent of high school students here (based on a sample of 659 respondents) say they have never taken a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription.
The flip side of that statistic is that 17 percent, or about 112 students at the high school, have taken a prescription drug without a prescription. It doesn't necessarily mean that they did so without the knowledge of a parent, to manage pain for example. Nor does it necessarily mean that the drug use was recreational.
But the numbers become more concerning when you look only at the population of high school senior men. The survey results available at http://www.grandfutures.org show that among students in grades nine to 11, those who have taken prescription drugs have mostly experimented. However, when one focuses on male students in 12th grade, 7 percent of those students who responded to the survey acknowledged taking prescription drugs without a prescription 40 or more times. That's concerning.
And the news arrives almost simultaneously with the news that the Federal Drug Administration has recommended tightening the availability of addictive prescription drugs. The FDA urges that the window in which a physician's prescription for narcotic painkillers can be renewed without a visit to the doctor's office be reduced to 70 days. The new limits specifically would target a family of addictive drugs known as hydrocodone.
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When you consider that the unlocked medicine cabinets in thousands of American homes contain forgotten pill bottles, some containing these narcotics, and how savvy our children have become at obtaining and selling these dangerous pills, the news is long overdue.
If you missed National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this month, that does not mean it's too late for you to rid your home of outdated prescription drugs.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that most unused prescriptions can be disposed of in the trash, and more dangerous drugs, like those containing hydrocodone, often come in containers that call for them to be disposed of by flushing them down the toilet.
The FDA recommends removing personal information from any old pill bottles of which you dispose and also has recommendations for the best way to throw prescriptions in the trash:
"Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter — to make the medication less appealing and unrecognizable — then put them in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag."
Addictive prescription drugs are becoming pervasive in our society, but the movement to take counteractive measures begins at home.