DEA Drive Collects a Mountain of Malevolent Meds

By Dirk Hanson 04/30/11

Last year on "Prescription Drug Take-Back Day," the nation coughed up 121 tons of pills. On Saturday they may have done even better.

5,000 sites across the country are accepting unwanted pills.

Don’t forget! "National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day" is coming up this Saturday, April 30. And our pals at The Drug Enforcement Administration would like us to remind you that it might be time to turn your unused prescriptions in. It seems that all those unused, forgotten, half-empty prescription pill bottles that have been cluttering up your bathroom drawers may pose a major national safety hazard--especially for young children and overly curious teenagers. The DEA-sponsored annual  program is intended to remove potentially dangerous drugs now languishing unused in the America's medicine cabinet. Think of that long-unused container of Adderall like you'd think of paint thinner and other toxic household materials that need to be disposed of properly. Like oven cleaner, you can’t just flush unused prescription drugs down the toilet, or toss them in the trash. Drug pollution in the nation’s waterways and landfills is a growing problem—according to recent studies, our nations's drinking water contains detectable traces of thousands of prescription drugs from Prozac to Percocet. This year, about 5,000 sites nationwide have joined in the Take-Back effort—hundreds more than last year. The event is free, and will take place from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. local time. Last year’s Take-Back Day in September netted am astounding 121 tons of unwanted pills.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]