The Montgomery County Harm Reduction Coalition will have its biannual Prescription Drug Takeback Program on April 24. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Montgomery County Courthouse (located in the parking lot off Market Street). This program aims to reduce the risk of prescription drug misuse by offering community members the opportunity to safely dispose outdated or unneeded prescription drugs at no cost.
This program is one step in fighting the bigger problem that the U.S. is currently facing: The Opioid Epidemic. Reducing the presence of unneeded prescription drugs combats their misuse. What is drug misuse? If a drug is being taken by someone other than the person for whom it was prescribed (even if the person is using it to address a legitimate medical concern) or the drug is being taken by the person for whom it was prescribed in an attempt to experience a “high”, the drug is being misused. Why is it so important to reduce the risk of prescription drug misuse? Prescription misuse is a gateway to more severe drug abuse, like the use of harmful opiates such as heroin.
Learning about the opioid epidemic is crucial to understanding the severity of the situation and why programs like this are critical. On average, 128 people die every day in the United States due to an opioid overdose. Moreover, of the 67,367 drug-related deaths in 2018, opioid use claimed involvement in 46,802 of them. More locally, in 2019, the state of Indiana reported 1,161 opioid-related deaths, with 7 being in our own community. As these numbers have continued to climb, opioid use has now become the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people under the age of 50. This outranks deaths from both gun violence and car crashes.
You may now be wondering, why do doctors prescribe opioids if they cause so many deaths each year? Doctors prescribe synthetic opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl because they offer medical benefits like pain relief. But, while these opioids fulfill their purpose, they also cause patients to enter a state of euphoria, or extreme happiness. This extremely addictive feeling results from the opioids interacting with receptors in the brain to alleviate pain, and it is a major cause of these prescriptions being misused by the patient or others who find it.
Utilizing this opportunity to discard expired or unneeded medications is one way that you can directly help improve both our local community and the country nationwide. Partaking in this event prevents the medications from being misused by someone in your household and by someone else who may find them due to improper, unsafe disposal.
Do you have prescriptions that you need to dispose of but cannot attend the event this Saturday? Do not forget, you can properly dispose of prescription drugs and needles at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Crawfordsville Police Department at any time.
Cameron Klabunde, Wabash College ’22, contributed this column for the Montgomery County Health Department.