BATON ROUGE – Drug abuse often starts in the home medicine cabinet. Medications prescribed to treat a legitimate health condition can be abused, misused or stolen just like illegal drugs. And, if children or pets get ahold of drugs in the home, they can take them by accident and become very sick.
That’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is joining local law enforcement agencies and healthcare organizations to promote prescription drug safety and raise awareness about the importance of proper disposal of expired, unused or leftover medications.
“People know that illegal drugs are dangerous, but the pills and medications we have at home can be just as dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands,” said Kandyce Cowart, Blue Cross manager of Special Investigations. “Many of us are prescribed a drug after a procedure or when we are sick, and if we have any left over, we tend to push it to the back of the cabinet and forget about it. The safest thing to do is to get rid of any drug you’re no longer using. And we have safe, easily accessible ways you can do that.”
Blue Cross and Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) will hold an event for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 23. Drug Take Back Day coincides with Red Ribbon Week (Oct. 23-31), which raises awareness about drug prevention in schools and workplaces.
Residents can come to BRPD Headquarters, 9000 Airline Highway, this Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to drive through and drop off medications. Law enforcement and clinical personnel will safely dispose of all drugs collected at the event. Law enforcement agencies statewide are holding similar events on Oct. 23, so check the news for opportunities outside of the Baton Rouge area.
“This is a safe, socially distanced way to clean out those medicine cabinets and remove risks from your home,” Cowart said. “Drug Take Back Day is anonymous. No one will ask you any questions about what you’re dropping off.”
Blue Cross and BRPD held a similar event for the spring Drug Take Back Day in April, collecting nearly one ton of medications in a single day and getting millions of individual opioid drug units off the streets, Cowart added. “We’re hoping for another successful event this Saturday,” she said.
While the official Drug Take Back Day is important to raise awareness, Louisianians have a way to get rid of medication safely year-round, through a partnership among Blue Cross, the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and law enforcement offices throughout the state. Through this partnership, secure drug drop boxes are available in multiple parishes statewide.
See bcbsla.com/safedrugdrop for a map of locations. The boxes are securely installed, typically housed within law enforcement agencies and available 24/7. All turn-ins are anonymous; no questions will be asked.
National Pharmacy Week
In another medication-safety health observance, the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists designated National Pharmacy Week as Oct. 17-23. Blue Cross employs a dedicated team of 11 clinical pharmacists, plus pharmaceutical analysts and other staff members.
Blue Cross pharmacists are part of the insurer’s in-house clinical team, which also includes physicians, nurses, dietitians and social workers. Members who have a long-term health condition or a serious illness or injury can sign up for health coaching from Blue Cross’ clinical team. Health coaches can help you stick to your healthcare provider’s recommended treatment plan, including any medication you’re prescribed, give you educational materials and work with you to set and reach personal goals. It does not cost anything to work with a health coach. Go to BCBSLA.com/Stronger to learn more about Blue Cross Care Management programs or sign up to work with a health coach.
Blue Cross’ pharmacy staff have long been leaders in providing and managing pharmacy benefits that support safe, effective and cost-conscious medication use to treat members’ health problems. Blue Cross is honored to acknowledge the valuable services of all pharmacists who help Louisiana patients—including its insured members—make the best use of their medicines.
Blue Cross members who want information about drug or alcohol treatment for themselves or family members covered on their plans can call the 24/7 Substance Use Member Hotline at 1-877-326-2458 to speak with a clinical professional. The hotline is operated by New Directions, an independent vendor that provides behavioral health services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and its subsidiaries.
For more information on National Drug Take Back Day, visit the DEA’s website.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates. Blue Cross posts often on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.