NEWS | Jan. 31, 2013

Understanding prescription medicine misuses

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

According to data from the "National Survey on Drug Use and Health," one-third of people over age 12 begin abusing drugs after intentionally misusing prescription drugs.

In addition, the data indicates that many individuals believe pharmaceutical drugs are safer than illicit ones, simply because they're prescribed by a health care professional and distributed by a pharmacist.

One of the first ways to combat prescription drug misuse is through education. Educating patients, parents and children about how prescription drugs can be abused is just the beginning, but it sets the foundation for safely using, storing and disposing prescription drugs.

"Improperly using prescription medication can negatively affect a service member's career," said Selwyn Stephens, 628th Medical Group Drug Demand Reduction Program manager. "More importantly, misusing or abusing prescription medications can result in serious health risks to a service member and could even result in their death."
Stephens recommends individuals educate themselves further by visiting the Drug Enforcement Administration's official website, www.dea.gov for further information.

"Abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and unfortunately, this trend is reflected in the military services," said Maj. Gen. Thomas Travis, Deputy Air Force Surgeon General. "While pain medications are highly effective in alleviating suffering from injuries, they are dangerous and potentially addictive when used outside medical supervision."

However, if you notice unused prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, bedside table, kitchen drawer of other places throughout the home, you can still properly dispose of the unwanted, unused and expired medications.

Proper Disposable of prescription medications

1. Take the medication out of its original container.

2. Mix the drug with an undesirable substance such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.

3. Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid such as an empty margarine tub or sealable bag.

4. Conceal or remove all personal information, including Rx number, with permanent marker, duct tape or by scratching it off.

5. Place the sealed container with the mixture and the empty drug container in the trash.


"Being educated on the misuses of prescription medicines is another way to become a strong total force," said Stephens. "The misuse of prescription medicines may affect every pillar of a comprehensively fit Airman. When it comes to prescription drug use, the goal is for all service members, family members and Air Force civilian employees on JB Charleston to protect their future and make responsible choices!"

Stephens is also the primary organizer for the Drug Take Back Event for Joint Base Charleston. The nation-wide drug take back initiative is scheduled by the DEA in conjunction with local, state and tribal law enforcement partners and has collected more than 2 million tons of prescription drugs.

Last September, more than 138 pounds of prescription drugs were disposed of on JB Charleston - Air Base and Weapons Station in observance of the event.

"The next Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for April 27, 2013," said Stephens. "Every event at JB Charleston has been more successful than the last. I am very hopeful we'll surpass our previous amount this coming April."