Without looking, can you tell me right now what’s lurking in your medicine cabinet or bathroom drawers? Don’t worry; I can’t tell you what’s in mine, either.
My family, like most, has our share of illnesses, injuries or medical and dental procedures come up as we go through our lives and routines. A lot of times, we get prescribed a drug to relieve pain or treat our symptoms. If that prescription is to be taken “as needed,” we stop taking it when we feel better, and those leftover pills get put in the cabinet or dropped in a drawer … and then forgotten. And over the months and years, those unused prescriptions can really add up.
“Mike, are you about to give us a lecture on spring cleaning and tidying up?”
Goodness no! But I am going to explain why going through your cabinets and drawers to clear them of expired, unused and leftover medications is a big step toward preventing drug abuse, misuse and overdose.
Did you know a lot of times, drug abuse – opioid, or painkiller drugs, in particular – starts at home? That prescription you got after a minor surgery last year and didn’t finish might just look like cabinet clutter, but in the wrong hands, it’s easy access to drugs. Our old prescriptions can be stolen or taken by someone intending to get high. And since most of us don’t keep a running inventory of which drugs we have around the house, we might not even notice they’re missing.
It’s especially important to be mindful of drug safety now, with the ongoing opioid epidemic that got worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both national and Louisiana data show increases in opioid-related overdose deaths. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, overdose deaths from opioids are estimated to have increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before.
Not only can leftover drugs be stolen or abused, your kids and pets could get ahold of them by accident, too. This could lead to some serious medical issues, poisoning or death. Especially since we’ve all spent a lot more time in our homes over the past two years, we can keep our families and neighbors safe by cleaning out those cabinets. And we have a great opportunity coming up this weekend for you to do so.
Drug Take Back Day
This Saturday, April 30, is the spring Drug Take Back Day. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration promotes this event twice a year, in the spring and fall, encouraging people to do their part in preventing drug abuse, misuse and overdose by cleaning out their home medicine cabinets. Drug Take Back Day events will take place in communities around the country.
I’m proud to say Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana sponsors a Drug Take Back Day each year with our local law enforcement and health care partners.
This Saturday, we will join Baton Rouge Police Department, local first responders and law enforcement agencies, Baton Rouge Health District partners and health care organizations to host an event from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters. That’s 9000 Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.
You’re invited to stop by and drop off those old, unused or unwanted medications. Turn-in is completely anonymous, and no one will ask you any questions. Just drive through and drop off, or you can stay to visit our community health fair. And at the end of the day, our law enforcement and pharmacy team members will safely destroy all of the drugs collected.
If you live outside the Baton Rouge area, check out www.dea.gov/takebackday or stay tuned to your local news to find an event close to you.
Just so you know events like this make a difference, at our 2021 Blue Cross-sponsored Drug Take Back Day events, volunteers collected more than 1.5 tons – TONS! – of leftover drugs. That’s more than 3,000 pounds, collected in just a few hours on two events in the spring and fall.
Most of the drugs we collected were prescription painkillers. And thanks to everyone who cleaned out their medicine cabinets and brought their drugs in for safe disposal, we got millions of individual doses out of homes and off the streets.
And You Can Safely Get Rid of Drugs All Year Long
“But Mike, I can’t make it to an event this weekend!” Yeah, now that things are opening up more after COVID-19 and that spring weather is here, our weekends are much fuller, aren’t they? It’s the return of Jazz Fest this weekend, Garth Brooks will be “Callin’ Baton Rouge” from Tiger Stadium – lots going on.
And that’s why we have a way you can get rid of your leftover drugs safely and on your own time all year long. Thanks to a partnership among Blue Cross, the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and law enforcement offices throughout the state, we’ve placed secure drug drop boxes in nearly every parish.
The boxes are securely installed, typically housed within law enforcement agencies and available 24/7. Just like Drug Take Back Day events, all turn-ins are anonymous; no questions will be asked. You can check out bcbsla.com/safedrugdrop for a map of locations and find a box near you. And our ultimate goal is to have a box in all 64 parishes – we are getting close! – so check that map often for updates.
Please do your part to fight drug abuse and join us this weekend for Drug Take Back Day or drop off at one of the secure drop boxes. Straight Talk is, it’s a small thing we can all do to make a really big difference and making our homes safer. Possibly a little more decluttered, too!