By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 11, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 11, 2013) -- Prescription medication addiction and abuse is a problem that plagues both military and civilian life, but Fort Rucker is bringing back a program to help fight against drug abuse.
Fort Rucker will participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration's fifth National Drug Take-Back Day April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the main post exchange, according to Jesse Hunt, Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator.
"This program is really simple," said Hunt. "The individual will take their medication to one of the drop points and drop them off. We're trying to clean out the cabinets so that [these unused prescription drugs] don't become an attractive item for drug abuse."
Last year, the DEA reportedly collected almost 500,000 pounds of prescription medication in more than 5,263 locations across the U.S., and according to the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs.
Other locations that people can drop off their unused or unwanted medications include Daleville Grocery Outlet parking lot, Enterprise police station's hallway entrance, Ozark Wal-Mart parking lot and the Dothan police station's walkway entrance.
This will be Fort Rucker's fourth time participating, and the program is in place to help promote awareness about drug abuse, as well as educate people on the proper ways to use their medications.
"People need to know when to take their medications properly," said Hunt. "They need to know where they are on the pain scale and decide if they really need that medication or not," adding that people shouldn't take medications just because they have them, but make informed decisions whether it's the right choice.
People should be taking "get well" doses of medication, not the "get high" doses, which can lead to addiction, he said.
Just because a person is prescribed a certain type of medication doesn't mean they must take it, he explained, and that's why a Lyster Army Health Clinic pharmacy representative will be on-hand at the Fort Rucker drop-off point -- to answer questions.
"The pharmacy at Lyster has been very supportive and has provided an individual that will be out at the collection point at the PX to answer any questions that people might have about the medications," said Hunt.
Some of the questions people might have about medications are how long they last, said Hunt, who explained that it depends on the type of medication.
"Most pain relievers will probably still be good after a couple years, but things like antibiotics start to break down and lose their potency," he said, adding that medications that people are unsure about should be properly disposed of.
"This is why this is a good program because you can't just throw these things in the trash," said Hunt. "You shouldn't dump it down the toilet or throw it in the trash because it's unsafe for the environment and prying eyes that might dig it out of the trash."
Once the medications are collected, they will be incinerated, and what's left or cannot be incinerated will be properly disposed of in accordance with environmental law, he said.
Although police will be on hand at the drop points, some people may be hesitant when turning in their unused medications for fear of legal ramifications, but Hunt assures people that law enforcement is there only to make sure the medications are properly collected and disposed of.
They will not be checking people's personal belongings or anything of that nature, he said, and it is even safe for people to turn in medication that has been obtained illegally, and encourages people to do so.
"There is no paperwork that people need to fill out, they can just drop of their medications and be on their way," said Hunt.