Drug abuse in America is on the rise — so much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. In reaction to this growing issue, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another one of their National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days for tomorrow, Oct. 26.
“[The day] aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications," according to the DEA.
Locations are available across the nation, and law enforcement officials are hopeful that people will return their unwanted and unused prescription drugs as a way to prevent them from being abused.
In the U.S. alone, 2,500 children ages 12 to 17 use prescription drugs recreationally — and daily. The issue occurs not just with hard drugs, but also with the drugs that people can find in their medicine cabinets.
“The United States was worried about shipments of cocaine and heroin for years, but whether those policies worked or not doesn’t matter because they are now worried about Americans using prescription drugs,” Morris Panner, a former counternarcotics prosecutor in New York, told the New York Times.
Law enforcement and political officials are trying to find better ways to fight this homegrown drug war.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse categorizes prescription drugs as medications that have potentially mind-altering properties. They can be taken for reasons not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they were prescribed.
Marijuana and alcohol are the most commonly abused drugs by kids ages 14 or older, but prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are right behind them.
The most commonly abused drugs are:
Opioids: hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid).
Depressants: diazepam (Valium), pentobarbital sodium (Nembuta), and alprazolam (Xanax)
Stimulants: dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), and amphetamines (Adderall).
These drugs are responsible for more than 45 percent of overdose deaths each year.