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Troops, families urged to turn in expired prescription drugs

Oct. 23, 2013 - 03:06PM   |  
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The Defense Department will take part in National Prescription Drug Take-back Day this Saturday, with collection sites available at some base facilities, such as commissaries and exchanges.

Tricare officials are urging beneficiaries to turn in expired or unused over-the-counter and prescription drugs during the nationwide effort, sponsored by the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency.

The event aims to remove potentially harmful and addictive drugs from homes and protect the environment. Proper disposal of tablets and pills can keep medications out of landfills, rivers and groundwater.

Accidental overdoses of prescription drugs are a growing problem nationwide, with incidents tripling since 1990. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, most caused by prescription drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A 2011 survey of health behaviors among active-duty service members found 1.3 percent of troops said they had abused prescription drugs, while 4.5 percent said they knew of colleagues who had misused them.

From 2001 to 2010, the number of prescriptions for painkillers written by military physicians quadrupled, from nearly 900,000 to 3.8 million.

The survey also noted that 5 percent of respondents said children had easy access to these medications in their homes.

During the last take-back day in April, more than 371 tons of unneeded prescription medications were collected at more than 5,800 locations, according to the DEA.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this coming Saturday. To find a collection site near you, go to the DEA/Justice Department site search.

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