Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs

By Whitney Pierce/PIP

Why should people dispose of unused medications?

Students report that prescription drugs are “easy to obtain” in the 2018 Regional Needs Assessment for Gregg County. In our region, students 7th-12th grade have the highest reported current 30-day use, lifetime use, and school year use of opioids in the state of Texas. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports young adults (ages 18-25) are the biggest abusers of prescription opioid pain relievers, ADHD stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs. Through proper disposal of unused medications, our community is reducing access and availability of medications that could potentially be misused.

Is there any error in adults saying unused medication is in the cabinet or it is tamper-proof for children?

20% of citizens obtain prescription drugs from a home medicine cabinet in Gregg County, according to the 2017 Regional Needs Assessment. That being said, it is not recommended to store prescription drugs in a medicine cabinet for easy accessibility. However, some suggested preventative tips include: locking prescription drugs or opioids in a hidden place, monitoring the quantity of prescription pills by taking inventory, educating children about the dangers of taking a medicine not prescribed to them, and disposing medications once they are no longer needed.

How rampant is teenage/adult drug abuse due to access of unused medications in homes?

The 2017 Regional Needs Assessment revealed that 1 out of 5 people obtain prescription medication from their home medicine cabinet. Additionally, our region (Region 4) has the highest reported current 30-day use, lifetime use, and school year use of opioids in the state of Texas for 7th-12th graders. 23% of youth in our area perceive that prescription drug use is not “very dangerous,” according to the 2018 Regional Needs Assessment. With easy accessibility and low perception of harm associated with prescription drugs, teenage use has increased.

How can one dispose of unused medications?

Community members can dispose of expired, unwanted, or unused prescription drugs or opioids 24 hours a day/7 day a week through the Prescription Drug Drop-Boxes located at the Longview Police Department (302 W. Cotton St.) and the White Oak Police Department (103 E. Old Hwy. 80 in White Oak.) No sharps or liquids, please. Citizens can also dispose of used syringes at the downtown Longview Fire Department, located at 100 E. Cotton St, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm in the lobby. Limit of 10 syringes per person/month. Deterra prescription disposal bags are available at Longview Drugs, Longview Medical Plaza, Drug Emporium, and the downtown Longview Fire Department for safe prescription drug and opioid disposal.

Whitney Pierce is the Coalition for Drug Free Youth Coordinator with City of Longview Partners in Prevention