According to a data study by Project Opioid and analyzed by the Florida Department of Health, during the months of March, April, May and June 2020, there was a 110% overdose death increase among Black Floridians. The second-highest rate was 67% among Latinos.
COVID-19 has certainly impacted these rates due to the consequences of isolation – changes to therapy services, outpatient services, etc. compounded with increases in mental health issues and those already struggling with drug abuse.
We can help to change these statistics. Unused, unneeded and expired prescription medicines present a risk for misuse and theft. Responsible disposal can help prevent accidental poisoning, addiction and overdose deaths. Twice a year, Take-Back events hosted by community partnerships with law enforcement agencies throughout Florida provide communities with an anonymous, free-of-charge, and convenient way to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medications.
Take advantage of this opportunity on April 24 as we join forces with the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative Florida (RALI FL) and our partners to practice prevention efforts and stop substance misuse and addiction before it starts. You have several options to participate:
— Visit the Take-Back Day Site Locator to find a location you can bring unwanted, expired, or unused prescriptions on April 24.
— Find a drug take-back center in your community where you can dispose of medications any time – not just on Take-Back Day.
— Check out the Safe Use & Disposal from RALI Florida for tips on safely storing medications, as well as how to use household materials like coffee grounds or cat litter to safely dispose of unused medications.
One of our favorite ways to safely dispose of medication throughout the year is using at-home disposal kits. These at-home disposal kits allow us to put unused or unwanted medications in the provided pouch, add water, seal and dispose of the now neutralized medications in the trash.
Through a partnership with RALI Florida, our network of community coalitions across the state will distribute an additional 15,000 at-home drug disposal kits in the coming weeks and months. This is in addition to the 115,000 at-home disposal kits we distributed in 2020 through our partnership with RALI Florida.
After a year without in-person community events, there’s a good chance many households in Florida have unused prescription medicines cluttering kitchen drawers, countertops, bathroom cabinets, or even your car’s glove box. Take some time this week to take stock of what medicine is still needed and dispose of the rest at your local Take Back Day event.
Be part of the solution to address the drug abuse epidemic and accidental poisonings. By properly storing and disposing of your medications, you can save lives.
Kathleen Roberts is Executive Director of Community Coalition Alliance, a collaborative of community coalitions around Florida, each focusing their direct efforts on their individual neighborhoods and communities but committed to sharing resources, best practices, training and mentoring.