Washington, D.C., USA: Saturday is the 15th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. On National Take Back Day, left-over or expired prescription drugs can be dropped off at one of any thousands of disposal sites listed on the DEA’s National Take Back Day website – takebackday.dea.gov. In addition, retail pharmacies, including Walmart and Walgreens, offer on-site drug disposal programs year-round.
Drug disposal can also be done safely through the mail. Multiple retail pharmacies, such as Costco, CVS, and Rite Aid, sell postage-paid envelopes for customers to mail in any left-over prescription medicines. Free safe disposal mail-in envelopes are also offered by the National Safety Council.
Held twice per year by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) along with state, local, and tribal partners, National Drug Take Back Day is an opportunity for families to dispose of their expired or unused prescription drugs. At each Take Back Day, thousands of pounds of prescription drugs are anonymously returned, helping prevent incidents of drug misuse across the Nation.
At last October’s Take Back Day, 4,274 law enforcement partners participated at more than 5,321 collection sites nationwide, taking in 912,305 pounds of prescription drugs—more than the weight of three Boeing 757s, the White House reported Saturday.
Prolonged storage of addictive prescription drugs raises the prospect for misuse by others. Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated that nearly 19 million Americans aged 12 or older had abused or misused prescription drugs in the past year. Sometimes cases of misuse are accidental: In 2016, 23,872 cases of improper medicine use reported to Poison Control Centers involved accidental exposure to another person’s medicine.
The proper disposal of prescription medication is especially crucial in the case of opioids. Overprescribing and the subsequent stockpiling of these drugs contributes to America’s opioid epidemic, which President Trump declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency last October.
Many people don’t even know when they have been prescribed an opioid. This class of drugs includes a number of well-known medicines, including Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and morphine drugs such as Kadian and Avinza.
A recent 2017 review of six studies found that up to 92 percent of patients prescribed opioids did not use their entire prescription, and three out of four of these patients did not store their unused opioids in locked containers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people who abuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative.
Children are also endangered when these drugs are left in unsecured locations. According to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, an estimated 22,174 children aged 1 to 5 were taken to an emergency room due to accidental ingestion of opioid pain relievers from 2004 to 2011.
Do your part on National Prescription Drug #TakeBackDay and discard old or unused prescription medications at a drop-off site near you.
If somebody has taken drugs and becomes unresponsive, call 911 immediately.