The Drexel Recreation Center hosted National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Oct. 29 to give the local community a means of safely disposing of expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs and to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse.
The national event was sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, resulting in the creation of thousands of temporary drop-off sites located throughout the country. Last year the DEA collected more than 309 tons of pills. The purpose of the collection was to limit the supply of drugs available for unintentional use, as well as to dispose properly of unused prescriptions in order to avoid causing environmental harm.
The CHOICES Center for Alcohol, Other Drug and Health Education, directed by John Watson, wanted Drexel to be a part of Take Back Day. The DEA requires the drugs to be handled by certified police, so Watson employed the services of the Drexel Police Department.
“The DEA collects the prescriptions, bringing about awareness, discussion and action beyond that day,” Watson said.
Regan Buker, the associate director of user experience at Drexel, dropped off her unwanted prescription drugs after searching the Internet for environmentally friendly ways to dispose of them.
“Many people think it is okay to flush them down the toilet, but they could go back into the storm water, which isn’t good for the environment,” she said.
This was the second time that Drexel has been a location for Take Back Day, and Watson hopes it will continue to be a venue in the future.
“The event did what we wanted to do and [brought] awareness to Drexel’s campus,” Watson said.
National trends show that prescription drugs are the third most common substance abused nationwide by people between the ages of 18 and 25, more common than cocaine, hallucinogen and heroin use combined.
“There is no evidence that this is a significant problem among Drexel students, but the problem largely reflects college-aged students,” Watson said.
According to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, with additional studies showing that a majority of the drugs are acquired from family and friends.
“Raising awareness is the biggest key, regardless of how many participate,” Watson said.
The CHOICES Center is currently conducting follow-up research regarding prescription drug abuse among college students.