Why is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day So Important?

The FAN Fall Fest Flyer

She handed me a flier and pointed to the picture of her son. He was handsome and young and his image sat amongst a host of others. They were smiling, beaming really and all very healthy looking. But, aside from that, they also shared another very specific commonality: addiction.

Some of these people died because of their addiction, her son was one of them.

I admired her composure and was ashamed I couldn’t keep mine. Tears welled in my eyes as I read the flier: “The New Face of Addiction: Raising Awareness of the Silent Epidemic.” Addiction pays no heed to social, racial or educational status. It doesn’t care how much money you make or what zip code you live in. Sadly, addiction is something that unites all of us. No one knows this better than FAN or Families Against Narcotics, a Michigan-based organization that supports people who have been impacted by prescription drug abuse and other narcotics. FAN advocates for the appropriate use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs.

We’d asked FAN to come in and talk with us about why they support National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is slated to take place on Saturday, October 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at thousands of locations all across America. The last event collected hundreds of tons of unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications. The amount of drugs collected increases by about 100 tons each year.

Why the increase in collection numbers? I stared at the flier in my hand and knew why. “The US has less than 5% of world’s population yet we consume over 80% opiate and 99% of Vicodin prescription drugs,” says Mark Rudolph, Executive Director of FAN, “and, according to the CDC, in 2010 enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for a month.”

There are plenty of horrifying statistics around prescription drug abuse. In fact, prescription drug abuse often morphs into heroin addiction. CNN ran an article describing how the economy influences prescription drug abuse and what addiction can lead to during tough economic times. This fact is echoed throughout the stories found on the Families Against Narcotics website.

Mark was accompanied by Susan Gregory and Andrew Fortunato of FAN. All three of them have experienced tremendous loss due to prescription drug abuse. Two of them lost children, the other, all that addiction demands: time, money, respect and more. Over the period of an hour and a half, Mark, Susan and Andrew explained why National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is important. Drug Take-Back Day helps thwart:

  • The path to addiction as many kids often start on the disastrous road to addiction by using prescription narcotics
  • The stealing of narcotics from the medicine cabinets of family and friends
  •  “Pharm parties” that sound too disturbing to be true (but are)
  •  Abuse and addiction that can start with legitimate prescription drug use due to injury or surgery

Since the inception of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, more than 1.5 million pounds or 774 tons of medication has been removed from circulation. That’s why this nationwide event on Saturday, October 28, is so important…when you put a face to addiction, when you see the courage of a mother as she hands you a flier bearing the image of her dead child, you know. When you yourself have battled addiction, you understand.

I studied the flier in my hand and know that there is hope. Some of these people are in recovery. Addiction can take so much, but in its devastating wake, hope sometimes grows. Hope can provide the courage for childless parents to continue. Hope can provide the addict with the understanding that they deserve a better life.

The success of and your participation in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is another way hope prevails.


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