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Prevention Talk: Drug Take Back Day: Play it safe, there’s too much at stake

May 14, 2018 11:48 am Updated: May 14, 2018 11:57 am

National Drug Take Back Day was April 28.

Drug Take Back Day is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency and is made possible by thousands of independent businesses who provide space for collection sites, by local police who provide protection at the site, by committed prevention professionals and treatment counselors willing to spend their time to give local residents the opportunity to easily rid themselves of unwanted, unused or expired medication.

Why is medication safety and disposal such a big deal? Did you know Americans are the world’s biggest consumers of medications?

The presence of large amounts of medication in American homes poses serious concerns for accidental poisoning and misuse. Young children are high-risk to ingest medications they find laying around, or are accidentally given the wrong medication by their caregivers.

Research from the Safe Storage, Safe Dosing Campaign to Focus on Medication Safety shows medications are the leading cause of poisoning deaths among children today. Although the death rate among children from poisoning has dropped to half of what it was in the late 1970s, deaths from medications have nearly doubled from 34 percent to 64 percent, according to research by Safe Kids Worldwide.

These statistics mean about 165 kids are treated in emergency rooms around this country for medication poisoning every day. More than 60,000 children are treated for accidental unsupervised ingestions each year. Ninety-five percent of medication-related hospital visits are because of unsupervised ingestion while 5 percent are from dosing errors.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 9 out of every 10 poisonings occur in the home, and of that number, 60 percent of the victims are children under age 6.

In recent years, more children have been brought to emergency rooms for medication poisonings than for injuries due to motor vehicle accidents.

A Safe Kids Worldwide study found most of the accidental poisonings of children under the age of 4 are due to careless storage of medications. Little children find medications on floors, counter tops, in purses, between sofa cushions, on dressers, tables and in pillboxes.

These cases increased 30 percent over the last decade. The Center for Disease Control reports small children only infrequently get into properly stored medications. Medication use has become an integral part of our life, and we are comfortable, almost nonchalant, with it ,but medicine can and does harm.

Be aware even vitamins, especially those containing iron, can be poisonous if taken in large quantities.

“Up and Away and Out of Sight” is an educational program led by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention that focuses on educating parents on the need for vigilance and raising their awareness of the importance of proper dosing and storage of all medications.

An analysis of ER data found in the case of childhood poisonings, 48 percent of the drugs belonged to their parents and 38 to their grandparents. Homes with multiple generations pose unique risks for both young and old alike.

Consider this a wake-up call. Play it safe — there’s too much at stake.

Medication can be safely stored in lock boxes, which are inexpensive and easily obtainable from major retailer stores like Target, LockMed or online.

Several permanent drop-off boxes for medication disposal are located in the Twin Counties: the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Coxsackie Village Police Department, Windham Police Department, Durham Police Station, Kelly’s Pharmacies in Greenville and West Coxsackie, Cairo Police Department, Hudson Police Department, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia sheriff’s substation and the Chatham Police Department.

Reach Helen Exum, CPP, Twin County Recovery Services Inc., 428 W. Main St., Catskill; 518-943-2036 ext. 321.