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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Police to collect unwanted medications

  • Anonymously, and with no questions asked, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dodge City Police Department will be accepting unwanted, unused, expired or illegally-gotten prescription drugs Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2p.m. at City Hall, 806 N. Second Ave.
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  • Anonymously, and with no questions asked, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dodge City Police Department will be accepting unwanted, unused, expired or illegally-gotten prescription drugs Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2p.m. at City Hall, 806 N. Second Ave.
    The DEA's "Take Back Day" will be the seventh such nationwide event, with more than 4,000 communities planning to participate. The program has secured more than 2.8 million pounds of prescription medications, the DEA reported.
    The purpose of the program is to safely destroy unwanted or unneeded prescription medications and raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drugs, said DEA Special Agent Joseph Moses. The agency will not be collecting investigative information, he said.
    "I think there's a definite need for this program even just to provide a place to discard expired and unwanted medications in a secure location," said Dodge City Police Chief Craig Mellecker. And after reports that medications can damage wastewater treatment facilities, people aren't sure how to properly dispose of their leftover drugs.
    Take Back Day "provides individuals with safe, secure means to dispose of pharmaceuticals," Moses said. It also helps remove one vector that abusers of prescription drugs use to get access: the family medicine cabinet.
    Most of the prescription drugs used without the advice of a doctor, about 55 percent, came from the prescriptions of friends or family members, according to the Center for Disease Control.
    More than 20,000 Americans died from prescription drug overdoses in 2008, according to the Center for Disease Control. Most of those deaths, more than 14,800, were the result of opioid painkiller abuse, drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, methadone and codeine.
    Opioids block pain receptors in the brain, which can cause a feeling of euphoria. They also act as sedatives and can slow breathing. As abusers take increasing amounts of the drug to experience greater highs, combat resistance or to fight the symptoms of withdrawal, their breathing can slow to a stop.
    About half of the overdose deaths involve the concurrent use of a second drug such as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.
    "It's a major problem nationwide," said Matt Morrison, a pharmacist at Gibson's Pharmacy at 2610 Central Ave. "Prescription drug abuse leads to more deaths than any other drugs abuse."
    Several factors play into the problem, including the fact there is no quantitative way for health care providers to judge a patient's pain levels. "It's really a subjective process of who gets [prescription pain relievers] and who doesn't," he said, referring to the "pain scale" used by most medical practitioners.
    Most people who get prescriptions for pain get them for legitimate reasons, he said. "We can't look at someone and judge because we can't tell if they are in pain or not. ... It's important that we're careful not to jump to conclusions so the people who need medication can get it."
    Page 2 of 2 - State and national officials have called prescription drug abuse an epidemic.
    Drug overdose deaths in 2008, 36,450, approached the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of injury death in the country, the CDC reported.
    Americans use 80 percent of the world's supply of opioid pain medications, and more than 99 percent of the hydrocodone, according to a study by the Department of Health and Human Services.
    As a local concern, prescription drug abuse "ranks up there with methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana," Mellecker said.
    Incidents of deaths by prescription drug overdose are relatively low in Kansas at 8 deaths per 100,000 people per year, ranking it 44th in the nation and below the national average of 11.4 deaths per 100,000 people, according to a survey of the decade following 1999 by the CDC.
    New Mexico had the highest rate of incidence at 27 deaths per 100,000 and Nebraska the lowest at 5.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
    According to the CDC, those most at risk for overdose include people who "doctor shop" to obtain multiple prescriptions from multiple healthcare providers, people who take high daily dosages of painkillers and people with low incomes, especially those that live in rural areas.

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