The Columbia-based Youth Community Coalition is hosting its annual prescription drug take back this Friday and Saturday. The take back is part of a national movement to collect and dispose of expired and unused prescription drugs, in collaboration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Prescription drug abuse among teenagers has increased 33 percent over the last five years, according to a study released Monday from the Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Steve Pasierb is the president and CEO of the Partnership at Drugfree.org. He says most teenagers who abuse prescription drugs get them from their own medicine cabinet.
“The number one source of medicines that teens abuse are a family member’s medicine cabinet," Pasierb said. "They’ve got to find a way to safely dispose of those and get them out of their house.”
According to the study, one in four teenagers report having abused prescription drugs and one in five of them first did so before they were 14-years-old.
Ryan Worley, the coordinator of the Youth Community Coalition, says he worries about those statistics and agrees that disposing of unused or expired medicine is the best way to keep it away from children and teenagers and to combat prescription drug abuse.
“We need to have everything in view and think about all of our medication and how we’re storing that, managing that and disposing of it, to make sure it’s not easily accessible to children that might either accidentally ingest it or intentionally take it to abuse it,” he said.
The Columbia drug take back is part of a national effort with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to curb prescription drug abuse, which Worley says makes the take back safe and easy for everyone involved.
“All the medication that is collected in Central Missouri here, we give to the Drug Enforcement Agency," said Worley. "They come by and pick it up and then they transfer it to a drug disposal facility, where the medication is all incinerated and that’s actually one of the best environmental ways to dispose of the medication.”
The organization expects to collect more than 100,000 pills from Columbia and surrounding areas. The take back accepts medications ranging from prescription narcotics to over-the-counter cough syrup, excluding only medical sharps and a few radioactive medications.
“We consistently collect somewhere between 125 and 180,000 pills at one of our take back events, which is a fantastic response. To date we’ve collected just shy of 2,000 pounds of medication, so literally a ton of medication,” Worley said.
Worley and Pasierb both say that removing expired and unused drugs from the community will help curb prescription drug abuse among teenagers.
The Central Missouri drug take back is Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.