Guest column: OCTOBER IS NATIONAL MEDICINE ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH

By Melanie Black

Naples

Executive director

Drug Free Collier

On Oct. 26 Collier County residents will have an opportunity to take an active role in drug prevention. Volunteers with Operation Medicine Cabinet will collect unwanted or expired household medication for safe disposal.

It’s a simple, yet important way for each adult to help prevent further tragedies in our community.

With the rise of prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths reaching epidemic proportions in recent years, pharmaceutical take-back programs are necessary tools for keeping harmful drugs from falling into the wrong hands. Operation Medicine Cabinet is certainly a prescription for safe kids and a clean environment.

Although the proliferation of pill mills contributed to Florida’s problem, stockpiles of medication found in medicine cabinets have also become a source for accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse as well. Since 7 out of 10 patients leave a doctor’s office with a prescription in hand, some homes have now become pseudo-pharmacies with improperly stored medication. In addition, direct-to-consumer ads have become so pervasive that prescription medication seems to be all around us.

And teens notice.

Data show that more than 1 in 5 teens in America has taken a prescription pain medication not prescribed for them and 1 out 10 reports abusing cough medicine to get high. We can prevent this by safely storing and disposing our household medication.

There is good news, though. With efforts like Operation Medicine Cabinet and other important state and local initiatives, there is a sharp drop in illicit prescription pill abuse and deaths caused by prescription drugs during 2012 in Collier County and throughout the state.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report shows that the number of drug-related deaths in Florida is at the lowest it’s been since the Florida Medical Examiner’s report was first compiled in 2008. Locally, the number of accidental deaths caused by prescription drugs dropped almost 20 percent from 41 deaths in 2011 to 33 deaths in 2012. To see the entire report, follow this link:

http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Content/getdoc/79241c67-253b-45eb-a238-1a07cf4a2a0c/2012-Drug-Report_Final.aspx

Drug Free Collier encourages every adult in the community to get involved. Residents may bring unused or expired prescriptions, controlled substances and also over-the-counter medication to convenient locations around Collier County for safe disposal no questions asked, no ID required, and it’s free. Please do not bring “sharps” as they cannot be accepted.

The upcoming Operation Medicine Cabinet take-back day is a part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s national pharmaceutical take-back day. Brought to you by Drug Free Collier and in collaboration with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Naples Police Department and Marco Island Police Department, and endorsed by the Florida Crime Prevention Association, Operation Medicine Cabinet® provides a safe way of destroying pharmaceuticals through incineration. By burning the pharmaceuticals, as opposed to flushing or sending medication to the landfill, we can avoid polluting our environment.

Here are the locations that will be open Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:

CVS Pharmacy - 294 U.S. 41 S., Naples

Everglades City Hall

Naples Recycling Center, 2640 W. Enterprise Ave., Naples

Walgreens, 15295 Collier Blvd., Naples

Walgreens, 13520 U.S. 41 N., Naples

CVS Pharmacy, 5585 Golden Gate Parkway, Golden Gate

Walgreens, 30 Golden Gate Blvd. W., Golden Gate Estates

Walgreens, 12780 U.S. 41 E., Naples

Walgreens, 1800 San Marco Rd., Marco Island

Wal-Mart Super Center, 5420 Juliet Blvd., Naples

CCSO Immokalee Substation, 112 S. First St., Immokalee

If you can’t make it on Oct. 26, there are 11 permanent drop-off locations available for prescription or over-the-counter medication throughout the year. With the recent addition of three new permanent drop boxes, disposal of unwanted medication is now easier than ever before in our community. For a list of all permanent drop box locations, visit: www.DrugFreeCollier.org

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