When you think of new tools to combat addiction, Google Maps isn’t something that immediately comes to mind. But the tech GPS app is making some strides for those who may fall prey to the country’s opioid crisis. Thanks to a new feature update, the directional device can now steer you to safe drug disposal sites.
In an announcement made this week, parent company Google said that they were purposely adding this component to their popular app in the hopes that it could help people get rid of unnecessary (and potentially dangerous) prescription medications.
The official word came from their vice president of products, Dane Glasglow.
“Addiction to opioids can start after just five days of use, and the majority of prescription drug abuse starts with drugs obtained from family and friends,” Glasglow explained in a statement. “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.”
The key terms to trigger these location requests are “Medication Disposal Near Me.” Glasglow added that those words had been highly searched on their browser, which led them to want to take action. “Drug Drop Off Near Me” was another term that would trigger mapping coordinates.
So in a partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, CVS and Walgreens, Google began building out the algorithms. This included zeroing on pharmacies throughout all 50 states, as well as hospitals, government buildings, fire stations and police precincts (all of which accept excess medications).
Disposal options like these can be tremendously helpful when it comes to addressing the crisis. Even if the person with the excess meds is not battling an addiction, they could easily get into the wrong hands (such as a family member, friend or child) if left unattended in the home. Thus, safely disposing of them can make a huge difference in triggering new types of dependencies.
And prominent doctors across the U.S. have issued stern warnings for those who hope to keep leftover pills around for future use. Not only do they eventually expire, they do not necessarily solve pain issues other than what they were prescribed for.
“You should certainly not keep prescription painkillers for use for a future time,” health expert Dr. Linda J. Mason declared in an interview with TheFix.com. “These are for a specific surgery.”