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It's time to clean out your medicine cabinet

Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday
Posted at 5:55 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 13:20:33-04

It’s time to look at the old or unwanted prescriptions you may have accumulating in your medicine cabinet. This Saturday is Drug Take Back Day, and a great time to safely dispose of your unwanted prescriptions.

Opioid abuse is still a problem, and health officials hope clearing out unwanted medications can help save lives.

Dr. Maren Wright Voss with the Utah State University Extension’s HEART Initiative said for many people, “They thought the prescriptions were safe They thought they were following doctor’s orders and yet it still led them into this haze of addiction.”

Voss said opioid related deaths have sadly gotten worse during the pandemic.

A new 12-month high was reported across the country in July 2020, with 87,000 overdose deaths. Just a few months later, that number shot even higher with a record 93,000 overdose deaths, the highest in a 12-month period.

“We can say that the numbers definitely are not going down. This is still something we need to work on,” said Voss.

And that’s exactly what they’re doing with the Utah State University HEART Initiative which stands for Health Extension, Advocacy, Research and Teaching.

Voss said, “One of my favorite parts is our peer support training programs, where they help train mentors who have lived through substance abuse and are now helping others on the road to recovery.”

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Shirley Reitz said Regence is also doing their part to help curb the opioid epidemic. “We really stepped up our work about five years ago. We looked at a number of different things we could do to help lower that possibility of addiction, as well as providing support and treatment options to those who experience that terrible disease of addiction.”

Reitz said Regence has also made changes to some policies, educated providers, and over a five-year period, reduced overall opioid prescriptions by 50 percent.

“One of the things that we've done is we connect people to alternative ways to manage pain,” said Reitz.

And they support programs like providing Naloxone to reverse the effects of an overdose, and Drug Take Back Day, something Reitz helped start 20 years ago.

“It’s amazing the amount of stuff that comes back. Drugs from all over the world and the age of it,” said Reitz.

And now it’s your turn to clean out those cupboards and remove any unused or unwanted medication from your home safely. Drug Take Back Day in Utah is this Saturday, October 23rd. Click here to find a collection site near you.

Learn more about the HEART Initiative at extension.usu.edu/heart.

Regence collaborates with Utah State University to share easy-to-understand health and well-being research with Utahns through the Blue Plate Research series. During the next event, assistant professor Diana Meteron will talk about her research on the psychology of bullies, the impact on victims, and the influence defenders can have. It will be held at the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education on Jan 13, 2022.