National Drug Take-Back Day on April 27 Is One Answer to Prescription Drug Abuse Sweeping Texas
Bigger is better in the Lone Star State – except when it comes to the number of deaths caused by prescription drug overdose. About 1,900 people die every year in Texas due to fatal overdoses from drugs that doctors prescribed for them. From 2000 to 2008, the number of overdoses nearly doubled.
Why the Increase of Drug Abuse
There are a number of reasons the abuse of prescription drugs is steadily climbing — the biggest being that they are easy to obtain. Teens like to experience what is called a “pharm party,” in which parents’ medicine cabinets are raided and the prescription and over-the-counter drugs are swiped to be blindly mixed with other pills and possibly alcohol for a fun yet conceivably fatal event.
But they’re not just for parties or teens; mothers use them, too. Women make up half of those abusing prescription drugs, mostly because women are more likely than men to seek the advice and aid of a doctor, and, in turn, be prescribed the drugs for their ailments. Many women feel they have to fill a multitude of roles and often turn to drugs to find the energy to tackle it all. It’s not uncommon to become resistant to the effects of the drugs and require larger and larger doses. Many doctors seem to be handing them out almost wantonly. But doctors alone are not to blame; pill mills, online pharmaceutical stores and international ones make it easy to procure the drugs, and more than a few people illicitly sell their drugs for spare cash. Concerned friends and family members may even give the drugs away when someone they care about starts complaining about aches and pains. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 75% of people who misuse prescription drugs are using drugs prescribed to someone else.
Some of the most commonly abused drugs in Texas, especially East Texas, are Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Valium and Xanex. Opioid painkillers, like Vicodin and OxyContin, are the most common for fatal overdoses. Valium and Xanex are often used for anxiety disorders among other things and belong to the family of benzodiazepines. Along with stimulants, or amphetamine-like drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, they make up another major cause of overdoses. Fortunately, not all overdoses are fatal: in 2008, 305,885 United States citizens ended up in the ER for prescription drug overdoses, but also walked out. That’s more than double the number of overdoses reported in 2004. In 2009, deaths from overdoses of Rx drugs had overtaken the number of traffic deaths by over 1,200, with expectations that numbers will rise. This epidemic hits people from ages 12 to 53 and everyone in-between, though young adults ages 18-22 seem to make up the largest group. The appeal of prescription drugs seems to be that they are doctor-prescribed and FDA-approved, which means, to many, that the drugs must be safe.
Abuse Affects All Walks
This is hardly an epidemic that only affects the mother or the teen; famous Texans have overdosed on drugs, tragically ending their lives when the deaths may have been prevented. Anna Nicole Smith is one such tragedy; her battle with prescription drugs was long and fairly evident. She accidentally overdosed when depressed over the death of her eldest son, who also died of an overdose, and a large mix of prescription drugs was found in her system.
Clean It Up and Haul It Out
Many people hang on to their prescription drugs because they don’t know what to do with them when they are no longer needed or past their expiration dates. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in conjunction with more than 4,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide, is the most responsible way to dispose of your unused and unwanted prescription meds. Since beginning this campaign in September 2010, the DEA has collected over 2 million pounds of unneeded, unused or expired prescription drugs. Here are a few of the collection points. If you don’t see your city, check the DEA site:
- Houston: Houston Police Departments on Emanuel Street, Ley Road, Montgomery Road, Sherman, Aldine, Bissonnet Street and Westplace Drive. Veterans Affairs, Holcombe, Blvd. University of Houston, Calhoun and University Drive.
- Jersey: Jersey Village Police on Lakeview Drive
- Bellaire: Prosperity Bank, Bellaire Blvd
- Austin: Cornerstone Church, Reinli. Barton Creek Square Mall, South Capitol of Texas Highway. Household Hazardous Waste Dept., Center Drive.
- Dallas: 12th Step Ministry on Northwest Hwy, Southwest Patrol Division on Illinois Ave, Walmart parking lot on Wheatland Rd, and Richland College on Abrams Rd., Walmart parking lot on Airport Freeway, University Park Fire Station on Winslow Ave, Southwest Center Mall on Camp Wisdom, South East Patrol on Jim Miller Rd, Duncanville Police Dept on Wheatland Rd.
- Irving: Walmart parking Lot on Market Place Blvd.
- Farmers Branch: Farmer’s Branch Police Dept on Valley View Lane.
- Highland Park: Highland Park Dept on Drexel Dr.
- Fort Worth: Edgecliff Village City Hall, Edgecliff Rd. Dollar Tree Shopping Center, Sycamore School Rd. Ridgmar Mall by Dillards, Green Oaks Rd. Hulen Mall by Sears, Hulen Street.
- Richland Hills: Richland Hills Fire Dept., Diana Drive.
- Pantego: Pantego Police Dept., Miller Lane.
- Arlington: Walgreens and Arlington Police Dept., both on Green Oaks Blvd.
- Lake Worth: Tarrant County North Patrol, Lake Worth Blvd.
- North Richland Hills: Fire Admin. Bld, Dick Fisher.
- Kennedale: Kennedale Police Dept on Municipal Drive.
- Corpus Christi: HEB, Port Ave. KIII-TV, Padre Island Drive. HEB Parking Lot, Saratoga Blvd. HEB Flour Bluff, Waldron rd.