One of the growing problems facing our nation today is the rising opioid drug crisis. In 2017, an opioid overdose resulted in approximately 60,000 deaths and public health officials do not see a decline in the near future. In August 2017, the Governor of Alabama established the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council.
Approximately 23 percent of all opioid users become addicted to opioid drugs, and 20 percent of the American population has used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes. A study of 162 academic hospitals in 44 states led by the Deaconess Medical Center in Boston reported that the cost to treat each opioid patient has risen from $58,500 in 2009 to $92,000 in 2015 in comparison to an average of $1,775 to incinerate a ton of pharmaceutical waste.
The Synergistic Efforts to Reduce Pharmaceutical Impacts on the Environment offers resources that enable citizens to protect their home and the environment from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs).
Approximately 53 activities were conducted in 2017, of which 10 were drug take-back programs that resulted in 4,255 pounds or 2.12 tons of PPCPs being diverted from public landfills, water supplies, and the hands of teens. Through these efforts, urban extension reached more than 643 participants at six of the 10 drug take-back events held in Autauga, Elmore, and Madison, Morgan, and Montgomery counties.
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