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Safe Disposal to Reduce Drug Abuse

Washington teens are abusing prescription drugs found in home medicine cabinets. Teen prescription drug abuse can lead to overdoses and heroin use.

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The statistics are alarming

Many teens mistakenly think medicines in the home medicine cabinet are safer to abuse than illegal drugs. Safely disposing of unwanted and expired medicines using a take-back program keeps these medicines out of the hands of teens. 

  •  An alarming number of Washington teens (ages 12 – 17) abuse medicines – almost 12%.1  This is one of the highest rates in the country. 
  • Home medicine cabinets have become the new drug dealer. Over half of teens abusing medicines get them from a family member or friend, often without their knowledge.2
  • Drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes as a leading cause of unintentional deaths in Washington.  The majority of overdoses involve prescription opiates.3 
  • Over 20% of high school students have taken medicine for a non-medical reason.4
  • Abuse of prescription narcotics (e.g., Vicodin, OxyContin) can lead to heroin use.  39% of heroin users said they got addicted to prescription painkillers before starting to use heroin.5

What is the cost of medicine overdoses?

 


1Data compilation from:  Washington State Department of Health, Office of the Department of Commerce, Family Policy Council and Liquor Control Board. (2010). Washington State Healthy Youth Survey 2008 Analytic Report. January 2010. Available online at: http://www.doh.wa.gov/healthyyouth/docs/08analyticreprt.pdf; United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substnace Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Office of Applied Studies. (2008). State Estimates of Substance Use from the 2004-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, Md. Available online at:      http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k8State/AppD.htm#TabD-8.

2 Washington State Department of Health. (2007). The Health of Washington State, 2007: Poisoning and Drug Overdose. Available online at: http://www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/emstrauma/injury/pubs/icpg/DOH530090Poison.pdf

3 Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.  2007 Death Data 2009.  Available online at:  http://www.doh.wa.gov/EHSPHL/CHS/chs-data/death/dea_VD.htm.  Accessed 9/19/10. 
See also, CADCA's summary: More People Killed by Drugs Than by Car Accidents in Some States. October 8, 2009.  Available online at: http://www.cadca.org/resources/detail/more-people-killed-drugs-car-accidents-some-states  Accessed 10/20/10.

3 Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.  2007 Death Data 2009.  Available online at:  http://www.doh.wa.gov/EHSPHL/CHS/chs-data/death/dea_VD.htm.  Accessed 9/19/10. 
See also, CADCA's summary: More People Killed by Drugs Than by Car Accidents in Some States. October 8, 2009.  Available online at: http://www.cadca.org/resources/detail/more-people-killed-drugs-car-accidents-some-states  Accessed 10/20/10.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2009 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Surveillance Summaries.  June 24, 2010, Vol. 59, No. SS-5.

5
Banta-Green, Caleb, et. al.  2010.  Drug Abuse Trends in the Seattle/King County Area:  2009.  Prepared for the Community Epidemiology Work Group. Avaliable online at:
http://depts.washington.edu/adai/pubs/tr/cewg/CEWG_Seattle_June2010.pdf . Accessed 10/8/10.

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