On February 24, 2014 Governor John Hickenlooper was on hand to help the Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention launch its Take Meds Seriously Public Awareness Campaign. Many people are not aware about the relationship between prescription drug problems and proper disposal practices. In fact, safe and convenient disposal, especially when it comes to outdated or unused medicine, is one element of the overall problem of prescription drug abuse in Colorado.
The campaign was produced by the Consortium’s Public Awareness Work Group in an effort to combat prescription pill abuse in the state of Colorado. As recent studies have shown, it is a nation-wide problem that has reached epic proportions. 52 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the United States are related to prescription pills. Each year, prescription pills cause an estimated 420 deaths in Colorado alone, equal to 35 deaths per month! In addition to the risk of death, prescription pill abuse leads to other health problems related to severe addiction, adversely affects families, leads to higher crime rates, as well as increased medical care and rising healthcare costs. Every state in the nation is attempting to combat prescription drug abuse problems using a variety of approaches. In 2012-2013, Colorado ranked twelfth in the country in self-reported nonmedical use of opioid painkillers. Health officials and public awareness campaigns are bringing prescription pill abuse to light, helping to prompt new and innovative strategies to lower abuse.
Since February 24, Colorado’s newly launched campaign is helping to advocate for the safe use of prescription pills and educating Colorado residents about safe storage and disposal practices for prescription medications. As part of this overall effort, safe disposal bins are placed around the state to ensure pills are safely disposed of once they are no longer needed. Many families have a medicine cabinet filled with a variety of pills they no longer use, vitamins and unused medicine for their pets. Ensuring they do not fall into the wrong hands is an important part of overall abuse and prevention. Safe disposal is also necessary. Recent tests have shown that water supplies show trace amounts of pharmaceuticals, which, in addition to posing a risk to humans, adversely affects our fragile ecosystems. Safe disposal is essential both for human, animal and environmental safety.
Receptacles placed throughout the state enable individuals to safely deposit their unused prescription medications. From there, meds can receive proper disposal rather than being flushed into water supplies or ending up in landfills where they can leach into aquifers. To highlight the importance of this campaign, Governor Hickenlooper brought his unused medications to a collection receptacle located outside the Anschutz Campus Police Department to safely dispose of them. In order to combat prescription pill abuse, the state of Colorado will need to employ sustainable funding to keep collection receptacles and safe disposal programs in place to protect public health and the environment. Please consider these adverse effects and practice responsible disposal.