CN coalitions take part in national drug take-back day
Cherokee Nation citizen Zachary Self and Caroline Thurman, of Chain Breakers Coalition of Adair County, oversee a drug take-back station on Oct. 26 at the Stilwell Pharmacy. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
STILWELL – Throughout the Cherokee Nation on Oct. 26, community coalitions joined a national effort to curb the misuse of prescription drugs by collecting old, unused, unneeded or expired medicines.
“The primary goal is to reduce easy access to opioid and pain medications,” Sam Bradshaw, CN Prevention director with Behavioral Health, said. “In national and local data assessments, people report they obtain prescription drugs from other people’s homes and medicine cabinets. The goal is to get unused medication out of the home, so others cannot easily obtain them to misuse and abuse.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration hosts the no-questions asked National Prescription Drug Take-Back event twice each year.
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
“We get a lot of antibiotics and blood pressure pills that would probably go into water systems,” Bradshaw said. “But we also get a lot of pain pills, which is our No. 1 targeted medication.”
Prevention coalitions supported by CN-related grant funding offered take-back locations in eight counties.
“There will also be one in April,” Zachary Self with Chain Breakers Coalition of Adair County said.
At his collection station inside the Stilwell Pharmacy on the damp weekend morning, drop-offs were slower than in past years.
“This is the first time we’ve had to come inside,” Self said.
This year’s national spring effort accepted a total of 468 tons worth of medications, according to the DEA.
“Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands,” the agency’s website states. “That’s dangerous and often tragic. That’s why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in – safely and anonymously – a record amount of prescription drugs.”
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends drug take-back events as a primary choice for disposal.
“If you cannot get to a drug take-back location promptly, or there is none near you, and your medicine is on the FDA flush list, your next best option is to immediately flush these potentially dangerous medicine down the toilet,” the FDA’s website states.
Available online at fda.gov are the agency’s “flush list” and instructions detailing how to discard medications in home trash.
Prior to the October event, CN coalition communities collected 1, 473 pounds of medications from homes this year, Bradshaw said.
“All our coalition communities have permanent disposable drop boxes, which allows for community people to drop off unused medications anytime during the year,” he said. “They do not have to wait for the DEA take-back events.”
For information about safe medicine storage and disposal practices, visit thinksmartok.org
For the first time, the DEA accepted vaping-related items during the event. Bradshaw did not anticipate an influx of vaping devices or cartridges “mostly because it was not advertised early enough. However, we expect it will go up in the spring take back event. Plus, people are just now starting to understand the dangers of vaping.”
CN Behavioral Health has several substance abuse prevention grants, and has been working on opioid prescription prevention since 2007, said Bradshaw.
“We fund community coalitions across the 14 counties to come up with their own local strategies,” he added. “We follow a framework called ‘strategic prevention framework’ and utilize evidence-based strategies to prevent the onset and progression of alcohol and substance abuse issues.”