Do You Think Drug Disposal Education Will Curb The Opioid Crisis?

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Spoiler alert: Thought-provoking questions (and responses) ahead.

Recovery Centers of America recently conducted a poll on our Twitter account, RecoveryCOA, to find out how voters would respond to the following question:

Do you think passing a law requiring pharmacists to provide information/resources on proper drug disposal will help prevent opioid misuse?





Out of 1,391 votes, 68.5% said no and 31.5 % said yes. This question was based on a recent law passed called Charlie’s Law.  Charlie’s Law was signed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy which makes it a requirement for pharmacists to provide oral and written information on proper medication disposal.

According to Recovery Centers of America’s Chief Science Officer  , providing safe disposal methods can be an important tool in preventing medication misuse and curbing the opioid epidemic. “This has been a major cause of opioid abuse,” Carise said about unused medications kept in people’s homes.

A Consumer Report Best Buy Drugs study of 1,006 adults revealed that approximately one-third of Americans have not disposed of medications in their medicine cabinets in one year. Types of these leftover drugs include OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, which are addictive medications contributing to the opioid epidemic. Because doctors can overprescribe these kinds of medications, risk is involved with keeping them around too long.

“It’s always going to be around,” Carise said. “There’s a need for opioids for prescription pain purposes, but at the same time, we still have issues of [doctors] writing a 30-day prescription for what might be 3 to 5 days of pain, and we’re going to have these excess pills out there.”

For example, An NBC news story featured 27-year-old Brittany Ringersen who was prescribed a 30 day supply of Percocet at the age of 16 after getting her wisdom teeth removed. Ringerson claimed she was not given any information about the potential risk for the medication to become addictive. She stated “I had this great thing sitting in my drawer and thought what I was doing not using it.” She then struggled with opioid addiction for four years until entering an in-patient treatment program.

What did our Twitter users have to say on the topic of drug disposal? See below for Tweets from our voters.

Despite differing opinions on the topic, the good news is that more information and resources have been circulated about the proper disposal of prescription drugs. For example, Recovery Centers of America along with the non-profit organization have supplied Deterra drug disposal bags at events throughout local communities. According to SAMHSA, more than half of individuals misusing prescription opioids bought, were given, or stole the prescription drugs from a friend or relative, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Conclusion:  Be sure to ask your pharmacist for local resources to help properly dispose of excess medications. In addition, police departments, fire stations and municipal buildings also provide drug disposal boxes throughout communities. Proper education on safe disposal methods is one of the first steps that should be taken to prevent medication misuse and curbing the opioid epidemic.

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