Last weekend, Ohio participated in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, an initiative championed by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The DEA began hosting these events as part of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, federal legislation that strives to reduce prescription drug abuse. Ohio is not the only state plagued by the abuse of prescription painkillers—it is a nationwide epidemic that requires the efforts of local, state, and federal governments to overcome.
During the 12th Annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this year, individuals could drop off unused, unneeded, or expired medications at designated collection sites, designed for safe and proper disposal. Many times, extra or expired prescription drugs stay hidden in the back of medicine cabinets for months or even years. This poses a health risk for children, teenagers, or others who are unfamiliar with the medications and may accidentally consume them. Additionally, the abuse of prescription narcotics has been on the rise for several years in Ohio and the rest of the country. Keeping unwanted opioids presents the risk that they could be stolen and illegally sold or ingested by someone for whom they were not prescribed and who may have an addiction problem.
I am proud to announce that Ohioans disposed of approximately 14 tons of prescription drugs during this year’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is up slightly from the last event Ohio participated in. Such positive numbers demonstrate the willingness of individuals and communities to use and dispose of medications in a responsible manner. We all know and feel the impact that prescription drug and opioid abuse has had on our state, and it is through initiatives and education like this past weekend’s event that we can come together to prevail over addiction and substance abuse.
The state legislature and administration have been hard at work shutting down “pill mills,” increasing access to rehabilitative care, and educating our communities and youth about the dangers of addictive substances. The opioid epidemic is an issue that affects each and every Ohioan, regardless of your background and whether or not you or someone you know has been personally affected by addiction. It is detrimental to the public health of our state, but through continued and combined efforts, we can eradicate its influence.
Since the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day began, Americans have properly disposed of 6.4 million pounds of drugs. This amount is incredible and truly makes a difference in the fight against drug abuse. By removing these unneeded substances from our homes, we can prevent their misuse and abuse, keeping our neighborhoods drug-free. I look forward to seeing Ohio participate in the next event as Ohioans positively contribute to our fight against opioid abuse.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.