More options for medication take-back
Permanent take-back program adds 45 drop-off sites
The department’s Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability has established a permanent household medication take-back program, adding more than 45 drop-off sites to two dozen counties across the state.
In partnership with the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, the new program will make safely disposing of medications easier than ever before. By the end of 2017, the department hopes to have at least one drop-off location in every county in the state.
Greg Fabisiak, the division’s environmental integration coordinator, is spearheading the effort. He said pilot medication take-back efforts began in 2009. At that time, safe disposal was encouraged primarily so residents would not flush their medications down the toilet or throw them in the trash.
“Early on, it became clear it was much more than a water quality issue. It was also a drug abuse issue,” Fabisiak said.
Misuse of prescription drugs has been on the rise for years, and nearly 40 percent of youth who misuse prescriptions say they obtain the drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinet.
However, the pilot take-back program could not, by law, accept prescription controlled substances, including Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax and a host of other common prescription medications. Those restrictions limited the program’s effectiveness.
In 2014, federal rules concerning the collection of prescription drugs changed, and the state legislature authorized the health department to begin collecting prescription controlled substances.
“That changed the ballgame, allowing us to collect the drugs with the highest potential for abuse,” Fabisiak said.
Research has shown providing safe disposal options for prescription medications is key to reducing prescription medication abuse, so Fabisiak is working diligently to set up as many collection sites as possible.
“I’m proud to be working on a program that can lower the rate of prescription drug abuse in Colorado,” he said.