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Prevent prescription drug abuse with medicine-return programs

We've heard the stories of teens raiding their parents' medicine cabinet and overdosing on a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs. Or the toddler who poisons himself because he got into Mom or Dad's pills. Prescription drug misuse and abuse continues to grow nationwide and, in some areas, it has become the leading cause of preventable death. There is no single way to battle this issue, but safe prescription return and disposal is a key way to begin to address the problem. 

Washington State is leading a nationwide charge to prevent medicine misuse. The state already requires health care providers to be educated about prescribing opiate painkillers and it has an effective prescription-monitoring program already in place. It now plans to implement broader medicine return programs in a bid to further fight the issue. 

In an editorial piece in the Seattle Times, Seattle and King County Director of Public Health, David Fleming, detailed a new government proposal for a safe medicine return program. 

"Under the suggested legislation, residents would be able to drop, free-of-charge, leftover and expired medicines in secure boxes conveniently located in most retail pharmacies or law-enforcement offices," King writes. "Collected medicines would then be destroyed by incineration at permitted facilities."

In addition, drug manufacturers selling medicines for residential use in King County would be required to run and pay for the program, similar to those used for computer and electronic item returns. The county would be responsible for ensuring its effectiveness and safety.

Federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy all recommend return programs as a key strategy to reduce prescription drug abuse.

Fighting drug abuse begins in the home. If you suspect a friend or relative of misusing prescription medications, you may need the help of an experienced addiction interventionist. Call Intervention Services today for more information about how we can lead your loved-one into recovery. 

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