National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Is Saturday, October 22nd

By John Lavitt 10/20/16

The DEA initiative allows people to properly dispose of unused, unwanted and expired medication.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Is Saturday, October 22nd
Photo: via YouTube

On October 22, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting its semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

On Saturday, in gatherings nationwide, the DEA will highlight spots to safely drop off unwanted prescription medication. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs. The secondary goal is to educate the general public about the potential for misuse and abuse of these medications.

“Eighty percent of new heroin users started by using opioid prescription drugs," explains DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt. "DEA's National Prescription Pill Take-Back Initiative is a way for families to prevent drug use, abuse and overdoses by ridding their medicine cabinets of unused, unwanted and expired medication."

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health released last month, approximately 6.4 million Americans age 12 and over abuse prescription drugs. The same survey showed that each and every day, 2,500 teens take a prescription drug to get high for the first time.

In fact, the abuse of prescription drugs totals more than the abuse of cocaine, heroin, magic mushrooms, LSD, mescaline, and methamphetamine combined. Since drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, easily overtaking both car crashes and firearms, the drug take-back day seems more crucial to the health of the country than ever before. 

In April, at the last semi-annual event, more than 893,498 pounds of unwanted medicines were collected at almost 5,400 sites spread through all 50 states. Totaling an incredible 447 tons, the record day beat the previous high of 390 tons in the spring of 2014. According to the DEA press release, the top five states with the largest collections were Texas (almost 40 tons), California (32 tons), Wisconsin (31 tons), Illinois (24 tons), and Massachusetts (24 tons).

In the past six years, the DEA has collected and destroyed about 6.4 million pounds of unused prescription drugs in total. Featuring thousands of sites around the country, manned by more than 3,800 members of the DEA's local law enforcement agencies and community partners, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day has and will continue to be an unqualified success. And it is clearly needed today more than ever before.

As DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam points out, "Prescription drug abuse has become the nation's fastest growing drug problem, destroying countless lives. The DEA's Take-Back initiative provides another way to address this epidemic and a safe way for our citizens to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs and reduce the threat they pose to public health and safety."

If you want to locate a National Prescription Drug Take-Back collection site near you, please check out this helpful link

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.