President Obama in his weekly address noted that “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day” is a day when one can safely, conveniently, and responsibly dispose of expired and unwanted prescription drugs at collection sites in one’s community.
President said, “More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in car crashes. And most of those deaths aren’t due to drugs like cocaine or heroin – but rather prescription drugs. In 2013 alone, overdoses from prescription pain medications killed more than 16,000 Americans. And most young people who begin misusing prescription drugs don’t buy them in some dark alley – they get them from the medicine cabinet.”
He noted that many prescription pain medications belong to the same class of drugs as heroin, and stated that four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription drugs.
He said that over the course of just one year there was a jump of 33% in the number of heroin users.
The President lamented the fact that this weighs heavily and take a toll not only on families, but also on many communities all across the country – big and small, urban and rural.
Moreover, he noted that it strains law enforcement, treatment programs and has cost implications for everybody.
“That’s why, four years ago, my Administration unveiled a Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan. We’ve been partnering with communities to combat overdoses, and we’re seeing some promising results. That’s why the budget I put forward this year would build on those efforts. It would make critical investments in things like drug monitoring programs, equipping more first responders to save more lives, and expanding medication-assisted treatment programs – including in our prisons,” the President said.
The President further argued that that the problem ought to be addressed in a more effective and efficient manner rather than throwing billions of dollars at locking up people for years who are nonviolent drug offenders.
“We could save money and get better outcomes by getting treatment to those who need it. And we could use some of the savings to make sure the brave men and women of law enforcement have the resources they need to go after drug kingpins and violent gangs, disrupt the flow of drugs into our country, and address the real threats to our communities,” the President declared.
“We should approach abuse as an opportunity to intervene, not incarcerate. And we all have a role to play here. Parents, we have to understand how important it is to talk to our kids, and to safely store medications in the house. The medical community has to be engaged, too – because better prescribing practices will make a difference,” he continued.
The President explained that as a country Americans have to continue to work to reduce drug use through evidence-based treatment, prevention, and recovery.
“This is something I’ll be talking about more in the weeks to come, in communities across the country. Because it’s a challenge we can solve if we work together,” he concluded.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
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