Where to Drop Off Unused Prescription Meds Near You

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Every year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) partners with local agencies throughout the country to administer safe and responsible drop-off sites for prescription medications. This year’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, April 28.

Easy access to prescription drugs has played a major role in the current opioid crisis. A significant portion of these drugs come from someone’s own home or the home of someone they know. In addition, other methods of disposal, such as flushing down the toilet, have been deemed unsafe and hazardous to public health and safety.  This makes responsible disposal of drugs all the more important.

To find a drop-off site near you, click here:

Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse Highlighted During National Safety Month

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As part of National Safety Month in June, families are encouraged to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse—along with how these drugs are obtained.

“Prescription drug abuse often starts with a legal prescription, or from someone diverting pills from a friend or family member,” said Karen Wolownik Albert, Executive Director at Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers. “National Safety Month is a great time to remind parents and families about the issue of addiction and how it may be prevented.”

Poisonings are the leading cause of preventable deaths among 25 to 64 year olds, largely from drug overdoses and prescription opioids, according to the National Safety Council.

“Because these drugs are prescribed by a doctor, many people falsely believe they’re risk free, but prescription drugs can be just as addictive and lethal as illicit drugs bought on the street,” Albert said. “Your brain and body sees no difference between a prescription opioid like hydrocodone and street-purchased heroin.”

Young people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to prescription drug abuse and addiction. Teens prefer prescription drugs as their drug of choice, second only to marijuana, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Teen brains are not yet fully developed, and can be very sensitive to drugs and alcohol. Frequent use of drugs and alcohol may permanently alter or impair brain development.

Gateway offers these steps parents can take to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse within their families:

  • Use medications only as prescribed or directed on the label.
  • Keep such medications in a secure and concealed location.
  • Don’t share prescriptions with a friend or family member.
  • Properly dispose of unwanted or expired prescriptions to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Local pharmacies or the police may accept unwanted medications.
  • Monitor family members for any unusual behavior if they’re taking prescription drugs, especially young people who are more susceptible to risk taking and addiction.

Warning signs of prescription drug abuse include changes in health such as sleeping habits, energy level, hygiene, appearance or weight loss. Other signs might include changes in friends, personality or a loss of interest in school or other activities.

Gateway offers a free downloadable guide to prescription drug abuse at: RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs

Fall into Drug Safety: Safeguard Unused Prescription Drugs

As the colder weather approaches, we start preparing to spend more time indoors. Now’s the time to make sure our windows and doors are in good shape, have the furnace inspected and cleaned, and take the car in for winterizing.

What many of us don’t think about, are the less visible dangers that may be present in our homes, specifically, prescription medications. In the wrong hands, prescription drugs can quickly turn from helpful to harmful.

Safeguard Your Prescription Drugs

prescription drugs, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centersPrescription pills in the household may “disappear” without the owner’s consent. If you have prescription drugs in your home, ask yourself:  What prescription drugs do I have? Where are they kept? Would I notice if some were missing?

You can take immediate steps to limit access to prescription and also over-the-counter medicines. Here’s how:

  • Conceal their location, monitor the quantities, and control access to them
  • Set clear rules for teens about drug use, including not sharing medicine and following the prescriber’s advice and dosage
  • Be a good role model – follow the above rules yourself
  • Discuss safeguarding medications with your friends and family
  • Properly dispose of old or unused medications

If taken accidentally, pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs can be especially harmful to a child, pet or anyone else. Possible harmful effects include breathing difficulties, heart problems, and possibly, death.

The experts at Gateway Treatment Centers are available to answer any questions you may have about substance abuse. We wish you a happy, healthy fall!

For More information about prescription drug abuse, visit RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs

If you or someone you love is struggling with prescription drug abuse, Gateway can help. Call our 24-Hour Helpline at 877-505-HO{PE (4673).

Prescription Drug Abuse is on the Rise

prescription drug abuse, prescription pills, prescription drugs“Abuse of pain medications may start when a person takes them for an injury or medical condition that causes chronic pain. It can get out of control. Over time, people develop a tolerance level to opiates which often prompts them to increase their dosages,” says Cynthia Miles, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers

Prescription drugs are often perceived as safer than illicit drugs but, when abused, pose serious health risks including overdose. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that more people die from prescription opioid overdose than all other drugs combined.

What Can You Do?

It is important to safeguard and keep track of prescription drugs. Following are steps you can immediately take to limit access to your prescription drugs:

  • Safeguard all drugs at home, including over-the-counter medicines. Conceal, monitor quantities and control access.
  • If you have children, set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosages.
  • Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
  • Properly dispose of old or unused medicines

Read More about Prescription Drug Abuse >

Alternatives to Managing Pain

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment’s H.O.P.E. program is a voluntary program designed to help people find alternatives to taking pain medications and/or narcotics. The program name acronym stands for Healthy Options to Treat Pain Effectively. Offered at the Gateway Treatment Center in Carbondale, Illinois, the H.O.P.E. program educates attendees on ways to take a more holistic approach to their health.

Provided in a group format, the program’s goals include helping people gain an understanding of their pain, and how to identify the ways in which it goes further than the physical sensations to include emotional pain and cognitive disorders. Once people can identify this, they can use this knowledge to begin to alter their thinking.

Participants learn how to use techniques designed to improve their emotional pain, which should in turn help to decrease the perception of physical pain. Daily grounding and coping skills are practiced, which are ideally, performed even when a person’s pain level is not high. By being consistent, a life change that is conducive to self-awareness and pain management is reinforced.

If you know someone who may be abusing presription drugs, don’t wait. Call Gateway at 877-971-4673.

Learn more about Substance Abuse Treatment Programs at Gateway Treatment Centers >

Reminder: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Tomorrow

prescription drug abuseGateway Treatment Center in Carbondale was paid a visit earlier this week from reporter Kathryn DiGisi of NBC affiliate WPSD-TV Channel 6 in Paducah, KY, for a news story about the upswing in prescription drug abuse across the region. Ms. DiGisi interviewed Gateway Substance Abuse Counselor Jennifer Casteel, who reminds parents that teens who abuse prescription drugs often start in their own home or their friends’ and family members’ homes.

NBC6 encourages local residents to do their part and responsibly dispose of leftover medications with the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 26, 2004.

The 8th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Saturday, April 26, 2014
10 am – 2:00 pm

To find a Take Back location,click here. For more information about prescription drug abuse including helpful tips for parents about talking to children about substance abuse, click here.

HEROIN USE SPIKES AMONG 18-22 YEAR OLDS

Today’s portrait of a typical heroin user probably isn’t what most people imagine. The growth in heroin use is primarily among white, middle and upper class 18-22 year olds, living in America’s suburbs and rural areas.

The heroin concern is an unfortunate outcome of another sweeping drug abuse trend among affluent teens: abuse of prescription pain medications, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. According to Partnership for Drug Free America, 24 % of high school students have abused addictive prescription drugs, a 33% increase in 5 years. 

However, prescription opioids have become harder to obtain and more expensive, therefore opioid abusers are migrating to a cheaper, stronger alternative to prescription pills: heroin.

It’s important to recognize the physical signs and symptoms of heroin use, which include:

  • Shallow breathing and shortness of breath.
  • Clouded mental functioning.
  • Decreased pain from either physical conditions or emotional challenges.
  • Uncontrollable feelings of itching.
  • Constricted pupils.

As well as behavioral signs of heroin abuse, such as:

  • Lying or other deceptive behavior.
  • Substantial increase in time spent sleeping.
  • Increase in slurred or incoherent speech.
  • Poor performance in school or work, including expulsion or loss of jobs.
  • Decreasing attention to hygiene and physical appearance.
  • Loss of motivation and apathy toward future goals and interests.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family, instead spending time with new friends with no natural tie.
  • Repeatedly stealing or borrowing money from loved ones, or unexplained absence of valuables.
  • Wearing long pants or long sleeves to hide needle marks, even in very warm weather.

If you know someone who needs help breaking free from opioids, Gateway Foundation can help. For a free and confidential consultation, please call 877-505-4673.

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