INITIATION DRUG: Youths who abuse drugs start with prescription medicines.
DRUG ABUSE AMONGST TEENAGERS does not always start in the streets – it can start at home with unused prescription medications. To address this issue, the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC), a program of the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement, recently organized and conducted the community’s second Prescription Drug Take Back event.
Two MGH Pharmacy staff members – Karen Ryle, MS, RPh, associate chief of community and outpatient pharmacy services, and Mark Sciaraffa, CPhT, senior pharmacy technician – volunteered their time to help the Boston neighborhood safely dispose of unused medications. They collected a total of 81 vials of prescription medications and 21 vials of narcotic medications.
The safe disposal day and related awareness campaign were designed to address the dangers of prescription drug abuse and lack of proper disposal methods. National authorities no longer recommend disposing unused used medications down the toilet or in the trash.
“CSAC believes that it is imperative to raise community awareness about the dangers and availability of prescription drugs,” says Beth Rosenshein, CSAC director. “The Office of National Drug Control Policy says that youths who abuse drugs start with prescription drugs rather than any illegal substance because they are readily accessible in home medicine cabinets. The Take Back event provides an opportunity for residents to play an active role in reducing the availability of prescription drugs to our young people.” Ryle explains why this event is so important to individuals. “We had a few people that had been hanging on to narcotic medications for many years after a loved one had passed away. They did not know what to do with the medications and were happy to have a place to bring them.”
Sciaraffa agrees. “Drug Take Back events are a safe way for people to properly dispose of their medications. We often get numerous questions at the hospital on how and where to discard old medications. I think the drug take back days are great because they promote patient safety, benefit the environment and connect the pharmacy community to the local community.”