Pushing to prevent abuse

“We’re kind of missing the gap on prescription drugs.”

Butler University is looking to make this conception a thing of the past with a drug take-back day and the creation of a new pharmacy-related group on campus.


take-back day


The take-back day will occur Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of Butler University Police Department’s building.

The take-back day allows Butler community members to get rid of prescription drugs they no longer need.

Andrew Ryan, assistant chief of police, said he was contacted by Sarah Barnes Diaz, health education and outreach program coordinator, about hosting a take-back site.

Ryan was told by a local Drug Enforcement Administration official that the area outside BUPD will replace Tabernacle Presbyterian Church as a local prescription drug drop off site.

“I think it’s important that we show the community we’re willing to get involved,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how many people we’re going to get to participate, so hopefully we’re prepared.”

Ryan said he hopes to create a drop off zone going north on Sunset Avenue and a second one going east on Hampton Drive. Individuals who have leftover medication or prescribed drugs they no longer

use will be able to drop their medications into five-gallon buckets in a drive-through format.

Collected drugs will be sealed in cardboard boxes, weighed and delivered to the local state police post for disposal on Tuesday.

Members of Generation Rx, a new on-campus group looking to inform students about the dangers of prescription drugs, will be involved in the collection of drugs.

On April 28 a nationwide take-back day occurred, and U.S. citizens released more than 552,000 pounds of unwanted or expired medications at 5,659 take-back sites, Diaz said.

“There has been interest (in a take-back site at Butler) in the past, but we’ve had trouble with scheduling and getting the request in on time,” Diaz said. “Any time we can offer a service to benefit the campus community, we want to do that.”

Diaz and Ryan said they also want to avoid people dumping these drugs into toilets or sinks in order to be environmentally friendly.

Annette McFarland, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, said a key reason for the take-back being held at Butler lies in the statistics associated with prescription drugs.

“The use of these drugs (among 18-24-year olds) has exceeded the use of some of the more commonly misused and abused drugs, like heroin and cocaine,” McFarland said.

According to a recent study, more than half of all college students will be offered a prescription drug at some point, and about 30 percent of those individuals end up trying the drug.

McFarland said four classes of prescription drugs are most commonly used and subsequently abused by college students: pain medications, stimulants, anxiety medications and sleep aids.

The reasons for the use of these specific drugs lie in their purposes and expected results.

Most students take stimulants to study or party longer, McFarland said. They may then take sleep aids to counteract the effects of the stimulants.

Diaz said prescription medications are becoming the new gateway drugs because they seem safer since they are medically prescribed.

“There is a lack of a sense of danger, and there isn’t awareness about the dangers,” Diaz said. “They are safe under prescribed circumstances.”

Diaz said many students come to campus on various medications, allowing fellow community members greater access to experiment with those drugs.

Fifth-year pharmacy major Samantha Christie, a member of Butler’s newly-created Generation Rx organization, said she knows abuse of prescription drugs occurs on campus.

“I think there’s a lack of accurate information about prescription drugs,” Christie said. “(People) see it as a prescription drug and not an illicit drug.”

One of the main goals of the Generation Rx program will be peer education on prescription medication, Christie said.

Christie and two other students are currently working with Diaz and College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences assistant professors Tracy Sprunger and Samuel Gurevitz to establish the program at Butler.

Sprunger and Gurevitz attended a nationwide conference on drug and alcohol addiction during the summer and learned about Ohio State’s Generation Rx program, which is “the gold standard,” Christie said.

Members of that organization have visited elementary schools, high schools and nursing homes to teach individuals about different medications and poison control.

Christie said the organization is working with Peers Advocating Wellness for Students because prescription drug abuse is not covered by the group like alcohol and sexual assault problems are.

Butler’s Generation Rx organization hopes to work with the residence life department Life and Greek Educators, Advocates and Resources to inform those living on campus about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs.

McFarland said organizations outside of the Butler community are also available to help students with prescription drug problems.

The National Council on Patient Information and Education hosts a website, http://www.talkaboutrx.org, that is related to prescription drug abuse.

“It’s not just a concern on college campuses,” McFarland said, “but it is definitely a major health concern in the United States.”

Diaz said the university has ways to assist those abusing or misusing prescription drugs as well.

The Assessment and Care Team, led by Sally Click, dean of student services, meets biweekly to discuss issues relating to prescription medications.

Residential life is also encouraging students to purchase lockboxes to protect their medications.

“We’re working to empower students,” Diaz said, “to prevent the growth of the issue on campus.”


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