DEA’s winter campaign aims to prevent Rx drug overdoses

According to the DEA, nearly 70-percent of drug overdose deaths in the US involve prescription medicine.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to aggressively go after drug cartels that smuggle hardcore narcotics such as meth, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl into the US, the administration is also keeping its eye on an epidemic of prescription drug overdoses.

The DEA recently launched a winter campaign called “Secure Your Meds.” It’s part of the DEA’s continuing effort to reduce prescription drug misuse and overdoses by encouraging the public to secure expired or unused medication that can get into the wrong hands.

According to the DEA, nearly 70% of drug overdose deaths in the US involve prescription medicine. Most of those overdoses were the result of a drug addict having easy access to medications that were not prescribed.

Assistant DEA Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet of the Jacksonville office says agents have spoken to drug abusers and gained valuable information about where they were getting access to prescription drugs without a doctor’s approval.

“They’re telling us they gain their prescription medication from people’s medicine cabinets. When I say people, I mean people that are close to them like family and friends,” Dubet said.

Secure Your Meds encourages the public to secure expired or unused medication until it can be disposed of at any of the 11,000 DEA collection sites.

But it’s not just the people we invite into our home who may be going through our medicine cabinet in search of prescription medication. Dubet said drug addicts bent on getting that next high will break into a home and head straight for the medicine cabinet or take what medications are casually left in play sight.

Therefore, Dubet said we must be one step ahead of the burglar who is addicted to prescription drugs.

“A small safe. A firebox. Something like that so when you’re not home, those items would prevent burglars from taking these medications,” Dubet said.

Unfortunately, it’s not just drug addicts that are overdosing on medication they had easy access to. According to the CDC, every year, approximately 50,000 children across the US who are less than 5 years old end up in the emergency room because of an accidental overdose.

The CDC offers the following tips to prevent children from accidently overdosing on prescription medication:

  • Store medications in a place that is too high for young children to reach or see.
  • Do not leave medicines out after using them (such as at a sick child’s bedside). Immediately return medicines to your safe storage location after each use.
  • Never leave children alone with medicines. If you are giving or taking medicine and you have to do something else, such as answer the phone, take the medicine with you.
  • Never tell children that medicine is candy, so they’ll take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.
  • Remind babysitters, houseguests, and visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them out of children’s reach and sight.
  • When purchasing medicines for young children, check to make sure they are in child-resistant packaging that you are comfortable using. Make sure to fully re-secure the cap each time you use the medicine.
  • Put the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone.

For more information about DEA drug disposal locations:

Diversion Control Division

For more information about properly disposing medications:

Environmental Protection Agency steps for disposing medicines

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