When you think of dangerous drugs, you may first think of illicit drugs found on the streets. You tend to not think of the pills in the small orange bottles received from the local pharmacy with a prescription from a trusted primary care physician. This does not make prescription pills any less deadly.
These legal opiates are a contribution to the public health crisis that is substance abuse. In 2016, there were over 400 prescription opioid-related deaths by overdose in Washington alone. Without safeguarding prescription drugs at home, it can be easy for prescription medication to be taken, misused, or sold. Now more than ever, Washington State addiction treatment programs are full of people suffering from an addiction to prescription medication.
Prescription medication can be used to supplement an existing addiction problem. Many prescription medicines are in the opiate and opioid family in the form of painkillers. This means that they have the same effect as the opiate heroin. Many heroin addicts will abuse prescription pills in the absence of heroin or to intensify the high. Both are lethal individually, let alone combined and abused. If you have a friend or family member who is addicted and you have a prescription for pain medication, it is paramount that you educate yourself on how to properly dispose of unused pills to ensure they are not used for the wrong reason.
Not only do prescription medications enhance an existing drug addiction, they can lead to one. Many opioid addicts trace their addiction back to when they received a valid prescription for pain medication for an injury or other medical condition. Even if the medication was being taken as prescribed at first, these powerful pills can quickly take hold and lead a person down the wrong road. This can quickly spiral into a full-blown addiction, in which more and more pills are needed to sustain the user. Not disposing of prescription medication can intensify this spiral, as you or someone you care for will have access to too much in too short of a time span.
So how can you dispose of your medication properly in Washington State? Washington addiction treatment has a new ally in the form of a recently passed bill that provides a simple and readily available solution to the problem of safely disposing of prescription medication.
Earlier this year, the state passed House Bill 1047, known as the Secure Drug Take Back Act. This bill provides a structured system in Washington for "safe and secure collection and disposal of unwanted medications". The bill requires places that distribute prescription drugs to have convenient access to proper drug disposals. These secure drop boxes may also be accessed at pharmacies, police stations, and hospitals. Passing this bill makes Washington state the first in the nation to execute a formal, comprehensive drug take-back program.
This is one of many tools available through Washington State addiction treatment. To find out more about House Bill 1047, prescription medication and addiction, and other recovery resources, contact us. As leaders in Washington State addiction treatment, we can help you learn how to keep your family safe and be a part of creating a drug-free community.