Written by Shawn Butler, Director of Public Safety for The Catawba Nation
The National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  states that though many believe the most significant drug problem in the United States may involve cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, it’s actually prescription drugs. Among the youth, two-thirds of teens who admitted to having inappropriately used a pain reliever stated that they had received these drugs from friends and family members, often from their home medicine cabinets. 
According to a 2017 survey conducted by Consumer Reports, many American households fail to remove unused or unwanted medications from their homes altogether, often leaving them easily accessible to our children and young adults. This survey revealed that approximately one-
third of households had not properly disposed of old medicines in the past year, and one-fifth had not done so in the past five years, leading to millions of pounds of medications needlessly sitting in homes awaiting a potential tragedy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) , approximately 50,000 emergency room visits are the result of unintentional medication overdoses in children under the age of 5, annually.
Prior to the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day initiative, started by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in 2010, American households did not have access to an organized and safe way to dispose of unused and unwanted medications. This often led to unsafe disposal in one of two ways: throwing the medications in the garbage or flushing them down the toilet. Research has shown that both methods of disposal can have significant impacts not only on the environment but also on wildlife and humans alike, as the drugs can leach into streams, rivers, lakes, and even the groundwater we drink.
Bringing Take-Back programs to tribal communities is important, as it is reported that Native American populations suffer from the second-highest drug overdose fatality rate of all American racial and ethnic groups. Often due to the remote location of some reservations, lack of access to health care as well as education surrounding these available resources, tribal communities are negatively affected at higher rates.
As part of our commitment to prevention, treatment, and recovery, the Catawba Nation Government is dedicated to both outreach and education to ensure our community has critical information and resources surrounding the dangers of prescription medication. We will also offer safe methods to rid our homes of unwanted and unused prescriptions medications through safe, secure Take-Back Events. Please join us in our continued efforts to prevent the misuse of prescription medications by surveying your home medicine cabinets. Gather up all unwanted and unused medications and bring them to the 1st Annual CIN-DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Event on Saturday, April 30th, from 11 AM-1 PM at the Catawba Nation Food Distribution Center.