FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 13, 2012) -- The problem of prescription medication addiction is sweeping the nation, and Fort Rucker is supporting the campaign to help reduce abuse in the area by holding a Drug Take-Back Day Sept. 29.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fort Rucker will participate in the campaign by having two stations on post where Soldiers, Families and employees can bring their old, unwanted or unused medications to be properly disposed of, said Jesse Hunt, Fort Rucker Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator.

"The main post exchange and the commissary will have stands to turn in medications, as well as local area businesses. Enterprise will have a collection at city hall, Ozark in the Wal-Mart parking lot and Dothan is participating in front of the police station," he said, adding that Lyster will have a representative at the PX and commissary to answer questions that participants or passersby may have about the drug take-back day or medication.

There are several reasons why Families on post should not only dispose of their medications, but dispose of them properly.

"The Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Take-Back Day is for people to take all their unwanted and unused medication out of their medicine cabinets. People are not supposed to dump it down the toilet or throw it in the trash because it is unsafe for the environment and prying eyes that may dig it out of the trash," said Hunt.

"Getting it out of the house is good because it prevents those who are looking for anything to make them feel better taking it, or for kids to experiment with," he added.

The hazard of having a large amount of medication in a home affects young children to seniors.

"[Getting rid of medications] gets rid of an attractive nuisance. The medicine could harm children or adults. Seniors may misread a date or just open the cabinet to grab any of their medicines to relieve whatever pain they may be experiencing, and since it is in the cabinet they assume that it is … safe to consume. They are setting themselves up for more damage than relief and could cause themselves more potential problems," said Hunt.

Prescription drugs can help as well as hinder consumers. They can pose serious health risks if not taken precisely how and when prescribed. Hunt added that after a year pills begin to break down and lose their effectiveness, so one pill may not necessarily mean one dose, and that is a high risk for possible addiction.

"The properties of many medications do not last, so the effectiveness has been compromised. If [someone] keeps taking pills that don't seem to be working quite right, [they] don't know how much is really in [their] system. Some pills [in the bottle] could be more true than others, so taking three or four pills doesn't necessarily mean a double dose, it could be a triple dose or maybe even one-half of a dose. You just never know, so it's not safe to be consumed," he said.

Among adolescents, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the commonly abused illicit drugs by high school seniors, according to www.drugabuse.gov.

The campaign's April collection drew in over 1.5 million pounds of medication nationally.

"This is our third time participating. We participated six months ago and we had such a good turn out that we decided to do it again," said Hunt.

Once collected, the medication is incinerated, and then what is left is safely and properly disposed into the environment without harm. The medications that are allowed to be collected are controlled, non-hazardous medications, including prescribed or over-the-counter vitamins/supplements, homeopathic remedies, creams, oils, ointments and suppositories, according to www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.

Though Lyster is not participating directly in the campaign, it does collect medicine for proper disposal.

"Soldiers and their Families can bring medication to the pharmacy area in Lyster [Mondays through Fridays] all year long," said Hunt.

The DEA is currently handling Drug Take-Back Day, and according to DEA rules, police must be involved in the collection of the medication. Some potential participants may fear incarceration by turning in the medication, but Hunt assures people that the police are not out to get anyone participating in the campaign.

"The police present are not going to check you out or look into your package to see what you are bringing in. If someone is turning in illegal medication, they can safely turn it in without prosecution," he said.

To participate, people only need to place their vials of medication inside a brown paper bag or some sort of container and deposit it into a box at the sites.

"Participants will not have to fill out any paperwork. They just drop it off and go on their way," said Hunt.

Prescription addiction is a growing problem in America and Hunt said Fort Rucker isn't immune to its effects.

"Even with all our checks and balances to help prevent medication addiction, our No. 2 drug problem on Fort Rucker is legal prescription addiction," he said.

Page last updated Thu September 13th, 2012 at 00:00