FORT LEE, Va. (April 11, 2013) -- Fort Lee will participate in the Prescription Drug Take Back Day activities set for April 27 nationwide. A collection point will be open from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. just outside of the Kenner Army Health Clinic entrance that's adjacent to the A Avenue parking lot.

All active duty military, reservists, family members, civilian employees, retirees and others can anonymously turn in prescription medication during the drives here or at other participating locations in the local area.

Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses one of America's deadliest hazards -- unused and/or outdated medications found in bathroom cabinets, kitchens and bedside tables in nearly every home across the country.

Abuse of prescription drugs -- whether it's codeine from that last root canal or Vicodin for persistent back pain -- stands as the second leading cause of accidental death across the nation (marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug problem). More than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Overdoses and brain damage linked to long-term drug abuse killed an estimated 37,485 people in 2009, the latest year in which such data was tabulated, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Drugs now kill more people than motor vehicle accidents in the U.S.," said Maj. Clifton Dabbs, a physician and epidemiologist at the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

Furthermore, prescription drug use has increased over the years in the military. About 17 percent of service members reported misusing prescription drugs, including stimulants (other than methamphetamine), tranquilizers/muscle relaxers, sedatives/barbiturates, pain relievers, anabolic steroids and erectile dysfunction drugs, according to the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health-Related Behaviors.

As in the civilian population, pain relievers were the most commonly misused/abused type of prescription drug across the military services and in the Army specifically. Dabbs said the abuse of opiates is becoming more prevalent across the Army as well. Opiate drugs are narcotic sedatives that depress activity of the central nervous system, reduce pain and induce sleep. When misused, opiates can become deadly.

According to a 2011 SAMHSA report, more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes "raiding the family medicine cabinet."

To help address this problem and foster safe and healthy military communities, Army installations across the U.S. are once again partnering with the Drug Enforcement Agency and state and local law enforcement offices for the semi-annual drive that encourages households to safely eliminate unneeded prescribed medications by turning them in for proper disposal.

"This event is a prime opportunity to raise community awareness, educate the Army Family on the dangers of prescription drug abuse, and help make military installations a safer place to live and work," said Mary Claiborne, Army Employee Assistance Program manager for Fort Lee. "During the previous National Drug Take-Back Day on Sept. 29, more than 5,000 collection sites across the country accumulated and disposed of more than 488,000 pounds of unwanted, expired and unused prescription drugs."

The American public has turned in nearly 1 million tons of pills and medication since the launch of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day program.

The Fort Lee ASAP office is coordinating the local drive, and law enforcement personnel from the Provost Marshal Office will be at the Kenner drop off location as prescribed by DEA protocols.

For those unable to make it to a collection location, unused or expired medicines can be safely discarded by mixing them with kitty litter or used coffee grounds; placing the mixture in a sealed plastic bag; and throwing it in your household trash.

The FDA recommends flushing as a means of disposal for a limited number of medications -- including Oxycontin, Demerol and Percocet -- to prevent danger to people and pets in the home. Flushing these medicines will get rid of them right away and help keep your family and pets safe.

For more information on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day or to locate an official collection point near you, visit the DEA website at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.

Page last updated Thu April 11th, 2013 at 00:00