Got Drugs? Safely Get Rid of Them During the National Take-Back Initiative October 29, 2011

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It’s that time again, time for the second National Take-Back Initiative this year, operated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies. On October 29 at locations all across the country, the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day provides a convenient venue for everyone to safely dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs.

The hours of operation are from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For a listing of the drop-off locations by zip code, or by county, city or state, check the link here. Select the search within 10, 25, 50 or 100-plus miles. Remember, if your original search doesn’t show any take-back locations, widen your search. Also, check back often as new take-back sites are being added every day.

How Big the Problem of Unwanted/Unused Prescription Drugs Is

The issue of unwanted and unused prescription drugs is a big one. According to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs.

A study recently done by the Los Angeles Times, analyzing data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that death from drug overdose exceeded death from motor vehicle accidents in 2009. In preliminary data, the CDC says that drugs were the cause of death for at least 37,485 in 2009, compared with 36,284 who died as a result of motor vehicle accidents.

In the Times study commonly abused prescription drugs are turning up more frequently in drug deaths. From 2000 to 2008, deaths from overdose of anti-anxiety drugs, such as Ativan, Klonopin, Valium and Xanax have increased 284 percent. Overdose deaths from prescription pain drugs, such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Norco, Dilaudid and Methadone have increased more than 256 percent during the same period. Compare this with deaths from cocaine (including crack cocaine) and heroin, which have increased 68 percent and 56 percent, respectively, during the 2000-2008 timeframe.

Every day, approximately 2,500 teenagers use prescription drug to get high for the first time, says the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Numerous studies show that the vast majority of these abused prescription drugs are easily obtained from family and friends. They’re accessible day and night in locations around the home, including nightstands, the kitchen counter, and the bathroom medicine cabinet.

Previous Take-Back Day Results

The DEA’s previous National Prescription Drug Take Back Days were held on September 25, 2010 and April 25, 2011. Nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. participated in these two events, collecting more than 309 tons of pills. In the September event, Americans turned in more than 188 tons of unwanted or expired medications at the 5,361 take-back sites available in all 50 states. That marked a 55 percent increase from the 121 tons the public brought in during the previous take-back day in September 2010.

While this is a phenomenal amount of unused and unwanted prescription drugs that were safety removed from the homes and communities, it pointed up the necessity for additional measures.

Four days after last fall’s Take-Back Day, the U.S. Congress passed legislation amending the Controlled Substances Act to allow the DEA to develop a process for people to safely dispose of their prescription drugs. The agency immediately began work on developing this process after President Barack Obama signed the Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act of 2010 on October 12, 2010.

Until that process is complete, however, the DEA will continue to hold Take Back Days every six months.

Gather Up Unused/Unwanted Prescription Drugs Now

Don’t wait until the last minute to get started. Go through your medicine cabinet and other locations today where you store all your prescription medications. Check for those that have expired dates on them, as well as medications you haven’t taken and have been accumulating around the house.

By all means, secure these medications where children and pets are unable to get at them. You certainly don’t want an accidental overdose to occur before you have the opportunity to safely dispose of them. Remember, flushing them down the toilet or tossing them in the garbage container are not safe ways to get rid of prescription drugs. The toxins get into the water supply and soil and create problems further down the line.

Come October 29, 2011 – prepare to drive to the most conveniently located take-back site on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This is a good thing to do, and you can rest more comfortably knowing that you’ve safely disposed of unwanted and unused drugs that have been sitting around your house.

Why not encourage your friends, neighbors and other family members to do the same?

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