Prescription Drug Disposal and Naloxone Coming to Walgreens
Author: Justin Mckibben
While it is true that prescription drugs are used all over the country to save lives and improve the quality of life for many who suffer from debilitating diseases and disorders, prescription drug abuse is still a major issue in our world today. An estimated 48 million people from age 12 up have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetime, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, averaging out to approximately 20% of the population of the United States.
Over the years in an effort to distinguish the growing problem there have been annual events and community resources to allow people to safely and anonymously dispose of unwanted or unneeded prescription drugs at disposal sites, with the understanding that a lot of prescription drug abuse starts at home with medications that are dangerous and addictive when misused.
Now Walgreens, the company that has been serving as a pharmacy and convenience store for people all over America for years, is taking extra measures in attempt to help fight the spread of prescription drug abuse by adding drug disposal sites to stores all over the nation.
Impact of Prescription Drugs
In recent years prescription drug misuse and abuse has dramatically increased, which has resulted in a corresponding increase in Emergency Room visits due to accidental overdose, not to mention the growing need for drug addiction treatment programs. Statistics have shown that the 3 classes of prescription drugs most frequently abused are:
- Opioid pain medications such as Percocet or OxyContin
- Central nervous system depressants used for anxiety and sleep disorders such as Xanax or Valium
- Stimulants such as Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
Prescription drug abuse, and specifically opioid drug abuse, has also been connected to the massive spike in heroin addiction in the past few years, with most people claiming to have started with abusing opioid medications for a time before eventually moving on to abuse heroin. Prescription drug addiction quickly became public enemy number one, causing more injury related deaths than any other circumstance, including car accidents.
Walgreens Pharmacy Steps In
Most recently we have seen more and more initiatives being put into action to try and facilitate a more compassionate and comprehensive plan for fighting continued prescription drug abuse, and one of these newest plans of action was announced this week when Walgreens made the declaration that it will be taking some very progressive steps in hopes of helping address the issue, including:
- Installing kiosks in more than 500 stores in 39 states by the end of the year to allow customers to safely dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs
- Making Naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote, available in 35 states and Washington, D.C. without a prescription
Thanks to the addition of these kiosks Walgreens customers will now have the resource to dispose of any unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications.
The company said this service will be provided at no cost, and most of these kiosks will be located in stores open 24 hours a day. In their statement the company claims these kiosks will- “offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else.”
In a news release related to this change Richard Ashwood, President of Pharmacy and Retail Operations for Walgreens, said:
“By continuing to counsel our patients on the safe and effective use of medications and by making this opioid antidote more accessible, we’re going to be proactive in fixing this problem. I am proud to say that Walgreens is leading the way in the fight against prescription drug abuse.”
Officials say this is all helping to expand naloxone access to those in need at any time, while also helping to get drugs off the street and out of reach in the household when they could become a danger. The initial announcement was made at a Walgreens in Washington, D.C., and has been received thus far with a great deal of enthusiasm.
As more people fight to get drugs off the streets, prescription drug abuse and addiction treatment programs have also pushed to advance the way addiction is treated. It is vitally important to make the world a safe place, but with addiction it is equally imperative that we also work to make ourselves better people. Prevention and education are helping change our environment, so we need comprehensive and holistic recovery to changer ourselves.
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