Fran Flener, Arkansas Drug Director, said the Drug Take Back program has achieved remarkable success in providing Arkansans a means to safely and effectively dispose of unwanted and no longer needed medications in an environmentally appropriate manner. Arkansas ranks 4th nationally in pounds collected per person.
"Every family in Arkansas should take some time this week to clear out medicine cabinets and then drop off the unwanted medication at a take back site this weekend," Flener said. "It only takes a few minutes, and by doing so, the families could save a life."
Since March 2010, Arkansas has been vigorously addressing the problems of prescription drug abuse and misuse. Efforts in the "Monitor, Secure, Dispose" campaign have included community outreach and education, the establishment of statewide take back programs and permanent prescription drop box locations, and legislation to establish a prescription drug monitoring program.
According to the 2011 Parents and Teens Attitude Tracking Survey released in May 2012, medication abuse remains the number one cause of drug overdoses nationally. In January 2012, the Centers for Disease Control issued a report that estimated one death every 19 minutes was attributed to unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States. Eight of the top ten substances which caused overdose deaths in Arkansas from 2002 to 2007 were legal drugs.
"Without a doubt, the myth of safety coupled with easy access of prescription drugs plays a significant role in this problem in our communities, our state and the nation," Flener said.
But awareness of the problem is growing both in Arkansas and across the country, she explained. In the past three years, Arkansas youth prescription drug abuse rates have dropped in 27 of 30 possible measures.
On Sept. 24, 2012, National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske released a statement in response to survey data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) showing significant declines in the non-medical use of prescription drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25: "These results are encouraging, but we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball. The abuse of painkillers in America continues to take too many lives, tear apart too many families, and place too much of a burden on communities across the Nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug abuse remains an epidemic. I am heartened by this progress because it shows our prescription drug abuse action plan is working and that we can make America healthier and safer."
Arkansas's participation is planned and coordinated by the DEA Little Rock Field Office, the Office of the Drug Director, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's Office, the Arkansas National Guard Counterdrug Program, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas Business Publishing Group, the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, and the Benton Police Department, along with other local and state law enforcement agencies, government agencies, community organizations, and public health agencies. For information including sites and locations nearest you, please visit www.artakeback.org.