How can lawmakers address the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the U.S.? Congressman Ami Bera has a solution to help, and was recently in Elk Grove promoting the Drop Act of 2015 to bring awareness to the issue.
Prescription drug abuse in the U.S. is an increasing issue for lawmakers and families alike. According to a press release by Bera, it “impacts people of all ages, across all socioeconomic backgrounds, and in all kinds of communities.”
The non-medical use of prescription drugs is growing by over 2 million new drug users every year, and a shocking 13.5 million people aged 12 or older admit to using prescriptions non-medically. This widespread abuse is leading to more deaths each year than are caused by gun homicides.
Congressman Ami Bera, a medical doctor representing Sacramento, has introduced the DROP Act of 2015 in an attempt to prevent prescription drug abuse. Along with Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe, Bera’s Dispose Responsibly Of your Pills (DROP) Act would establish a grant program that funds programs to help law agencies, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, care facilities, and treatment programs dispose of prescription medications that are no longer needed.
If passed, Sacramento would be one of 10 locations to pilot the nationwide program, which would provide 24-hour drug disposal kiosks for people to dispose of prescription drugs.
Medication disposal helps with the problem of prescription drug addiction by preventing the non-medical use of drugs forgotten in medicine cabinets. “From my perspective it would be easier if we could prevent the person before they become addicted,” says Bera.
Research shows that more than half of prescription medications used non-medically are obtained from people the user knows.
Steven and Deb Simpson joined Congressman Bera to share their stories, urging people to lock up and dispose of their prescription drugs.
After a near fatal car accident left Deb with prescription pain medications, her then 15-year old son began experimenting with her prescription drugs. He would sneak one or two at a time from the medicine cabinet at home, or from Deb’s purse.
As his drug abuse turned to addiction, Steven admits that his home was not his only supply for prescription pills. Like many other teens, Steven would mow lawns for extra cash. He would ask his customers if he could use their bathrooms. There, he often found prescription medications kept unlocked and available in their medicine cabinets. He was careful never to take an entire bottle, instead sneaking one or two pills at a time so they wouldn’t be missed.
Steven’s previous behavior is not unusual. Prescription drug abuse can go on for years unnoticed as addicts pilfer pills from the unlocked medicine cabinets of family, friends, and neighbors. Prescription addicts have even admitted to attending open houses and shopping through the bathroom cabinets of homes for sale looking for their next fix.
If these prescription pills hadn’t been so readily available, Steven and his family might have never endured their five-year nightmare of addiction. Their personal journey with prescription addiction led to the invention of Safer Lock, a combination locking cap that fits over any prescription bottle. They are hoping they can help prevent other teens like Steven from gaining access to pills in the first place.
Now in recovery, Steven and Deb hope their support for Congressman Bera’s Drop Act can help persuade more legislation and efforts that can prevent prescription drug abuse.