Nebraskans are being urged to properly dispose of leftover medication, all a part of efforts to raised awareness about the growing drug overdose problem.
A blue, upright MedSafe container sits in the corner, just inside the front door at Kohll’s Pharmacy. Customers can drop off leftover prescriptions in the container before they go to the counter or simply drop them in the container and leave.
It is simple. It is easy. It is not well enough known.
Pharmacist David Kohll says plenty of customers use the container, but he believes more would dispose of drugs in similar canisters located across the state, if they only knew.
“Some of the public knows, but not near as much, because there isn’t enough media out,” Kohll tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Because people don’t advertise it, so it’s whatever news gets out about it and then this (the MedSafe container) will start getting filled up quicker.”
This is Drug Overdose Awareness Week.
Many patients prescribed pain relievers after surgery or just for short-term pain relief don’t have to use the full prescription. Bottles of leftover drugs crowd medicine cabinets throughout Nebraska. What seems innocent, can prove a temptation for those who get hooked on the euphoria they felt while taking prescriptions or for those who just want to get high.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s office reports that each year, over 289 million prescriptions for painkillers are written in the United States and such widespread distribution results in addiction, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths throughout the country.
Nebraska’s medical community has joined with law enforcement to promote the safe disposal of prescription as a key to keeping the opioid crisis from becoming an epidemic here. Nebraska MEDS is a coalition of state and community partners advocating for the safe disposal of prescription and even over-the-counter medications.
Flushing drugs down the toilet, throwing them in the trash isn’t proper disposals. Drugs in a secure facility are returned to the manufacturer for incineration.
Opioid addiction will continue even after steps are taken to secure medication.
Attorney General Doug Peterson says proper disposal is a key, but the problem extends beyond getting rid of drugs no longer needed.
“Because typically what happens is once they’re cut off from their prescription sources, they can’t find any more homes to steal it from, then they have to go to the street for the heroin and the fentanyl,” Peterson tells Nebraska Radio Network.
National statistics indicate one in five persons prescribed opioids becomes an addict.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:59]