By Nyesha Stone
Today, April 27, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Because it only happens twice a year, many individuals don’t have a place to take their unused, unwanted and expired medications for months, according to Doug O’Brien, a regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (US HHS).
He noticed that the drop-off locations, where people could dispose of their medication, during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, were offering more than just a day for people to bring their meds in.
This information wasn’t being advertised so, US HHS and the Drug Enforcement Agency partnered with Google to develop a Google search feature. This feature allows individuals to type in “take-back locations” into Google to find nearby locations to drop-off meds throughout the year.
“A lot of the partners started saying ‘there’s no reason we can’t do this every day,’” said O’Brien about the initiative for the new Google search.
The big question to figure out was “how can we make that information available to people?” The most accessible and efficient way was through Google. According to O’Brien, this new Google tool will allow people immediate access 24/7, 365 days a year to information.
“We want people to be able to get rid of it [meds] right away,” said O’Brien.
It’s important individuals safely get rid of their meds because a good portion of opioid abusers are being supplied through unused meds. He stated that everyone has a role to play in ending the opioid crisis.
“It’s important that the source gets cut off,” O’Brien said about unused meds.
Properly disposing of meds is only one of the many paths we have to take to beat this issue, he said.
We have to work to “diminish the stigma of treatment [because] there is nothing more heroic than a person saying, ‘I need help with addiction,’” said O’Brien.
According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), more than 130 people in the US die after overdosing on opioids.
O’Brien said addiction is something he will continue to fight because of personal reasons. His sister struggled with addiction, but she eventually got clean and now works to help others with addictions.
Take today as a day of awareness but also a call for action. And in the words of O’Brien, “embrace instead of turning our backs” against those struggling with addiction.
For more information on the new Google search tool, visit https://www.hhs.gov/cto/blog/2019/2/21/today-you-can-find-where-dispose-drugs-more-easily.html