Google Maps is joining the fight against the opioid crisis. On Thursday, Feb. 21, the company stated that it will begin rolling out an update in the app that will allow users to find the nearest drug disposal.

Finding Drug Disposal Via Google Maps

According to a press release, users can now type "drug drop off near me" or "medical disposal near me" on the app to see local pharmacies, hospitals, and government buildings to discard unnecessary medication in their possession. The move is a response to the uptick of internet searches for "medication disposal near me" last month.

"Addiction to opioids can start after just five days of use, and the majority of prescription drug abuse (53%) starts with drugs obtained from family and friends," stated Dane Glasglow, the vice president of product at Google Maps. "That's why Google wants to help people get rid of leftover pills that are sitting in people's medicine cabinets, and to make drug disposal locations easier for people to find with a simple search."

Google has partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, state governments, CVS, and Walgreens for the project. According to the company, the app highlights CVS and Walgreens location data in 50 states to help users discard of unused drugs. In seven states, more data that include hospitals, fire stations, and police stations have been included for medical disposal.

The update builds on a web tool launched by the company last year in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Through the effort, the agency and local partners were able to collect 1.85 million pounds of unused prescription drugs as part of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

More information will be added to the app in the next couple of weeks in preparation for the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in April.

The Opioid Crisis In The US

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,000 opioid-related deaths have been reported. Of that number, 36 percent were due to prescription opioids.

Previous medical studies have found that drug disposal programs, where the public can safely get rid of the unused drug, is an effective tool to reduce opioid abuse. The White House, in its National Drug Control Strategy, also recommends the addition of more drug disposal sites.

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