Bill introduced to prevent drug abuse, encourage drug take-back programs

Rebecca Savransky, Managing Editor

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) introduced a bill Friday to prevent prescription drug abuse and develop initiatives to help people receive treatment.

The bill, titled the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2014, encourages cities to host drug take-back programs, where residents can dispose of unused or unwanted prescription drugs. Evanston will host its ninth drug tack-back day this week.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reported Americans turned in about 780,158 pounds of prescription drugs at a take-back day last April at about 6,100 sites operated by the administrations and its partner.

The Evanston Police Department and the DEA are organizing a National Drug Take Back Day, which will take place Saturday at the Evanston Police Department Service Desk, 1454 Elmwood Ave., police said. This is the ninth time in four years in which Evanston has given residents the opportunity to return their prescription drugs through a free and anonymous service, police said.

In addition to recommending increased participation in drug take-back programs, Foster’s bill will also help create programs to effectively share information about drug prescription and use, and will give doctors more training to predict drug abuse.

“Easy access to prescription drugs is leading too many young people down the path of addiction and opening the door to abuse of other opioids like heroin,” Foster said in a news release. “Families in my district are being torn apart, and lives are being ruined. We must do more to combat prescription drug abuse.”

Prescription drug abuse is a large problem in the United States, with 1.7 million 12- to 15-year-olds abusing prescription drugs for the first time in 2011, according to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The legislation would also require that a review be conducted to determine whether general access to lifesaving drugs, such as Naloxone, should be increased by granting them over-the-counter status.

If this legislation is enacted, a report will be issued to Congress within 18 months, reviewing current abuse programs and policies and making recommendations for how to reduce opioid and heroin drug abuse.

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