Earlier this week, I reached into a bathroom drawer and dug out a half-dozen prescription vials.
These were drugs from long ago, and looking at them was like taking inventory of past medical problems:
Two prescriptions for painkillers that eased episodes of lower-back pain.
A muscle relaxer for the spinal agony.
Another pain prescription for a skin graft that healed a hole from a skin cancer.
Diflucan for a yeast infection of the mouth and throat. (Trust me, you don’t want to have this condition.)
One prescription I didn’t even recall. I’m not sure what illness it treated.
The vials were from as far back as 2001, and each held no more than three tablets.
The good news is that I hadn’t flushed these pills down the toilet. The better news is that I will be disposing of them Saturday in a national “Drug Take-Back Day,’’ sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The CDC reports that prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. Unused drugs in the home can contribute to this abuse, and teenagers are especially prone to misuse pills left in medicine cabinets or drawers, the American Medical Association notes.
Young people use the drugs at parties: They pour several different kinds of pills into a bowl and then take them at random.
The number of accidental poisonings and overdoses from these drugs has increased.
Improper drug disposal can also pose a threat to the environment. Flushing pills down the toilet, or throwing them in the trash, presents potential safety and health hazards.
This is the fourth DEA-sponsored “Take Back” event. Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds — 188.5 tons — of prescription drugs at more than 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners, according to the DEA.
“Many do not realize the tragic impact that prescription drugs, when abused, have on our society,’’ Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown told the Rockdale Citizen.