On Wednesday, April 27, 2016 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Fort Greely Medical Clinic, the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the Fort Greely community its 11th opportunity in six years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription and non-prescription medication.
It was reported by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services that, “soaring heroin death rates in Alaska still don’t outpace the rate of fatal overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers.” According to Dr. Jay Butler, the state’s chief medical officer and director of the public health division, “fatal overdoses linked to prescription pain medications dropped considerably in 2010 after pharmaceutical companies changed formulations to deter abuse but then began rising again. Alaska’s prescription opioid pain relievers overdose death rate was more than double the national rate in 2012, the most recent year national data was available.”
Although prescription drug abuse effects many Americans, certain populations, such as youth, older adults, and women, may be at particular risk. Medicines that remain in home cabinets are highly predisposed to diversion (altered), misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
In an effort to address this problem, the DEA, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States are supporting the continuation of the National Prescription Take Back Day.
Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills.
The Fort Greely community and those who have access to the garrison are encouraged to bring pills for disposal to the Fort Greely Medical Clinic at Building 655 E. 5th Street. (The DEA cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps; only pills or patches.) The service is free and anonymous, no questions will be asked and no identification required to drop off medications.
For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 27 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.
 Hollander, Zaz. “Alaska’s heroin death rate spikes, but prescription opioids takes more lives.” Alaska Dispatch News. 25 Mar. 2016.