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Drug Take Back Event collects record of 276 tons of prescription drugs

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Saturday, April 28th Americans across the nation delivered a record breaking 276 tons of prescription drugs to law enforcement agencies in response to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The total combined amount of drugs turned in for the four Drug Take Back days adds to a total of 1.5 million pounds or 774 tons. The DEA Administrator Michelle M. Leonhart states that she is pleased with the American people’s response to the battle against prescription drug abuse.

In an effort to involve the American people in the fight against prescription drug abuse, the DEA initiated the Drug Take Back events that have occurred every year for the last four years and the citizens of the United States have responded in a remarkable way. In Saturday’s event, 4,268 agencies participated in Drug Take Back Day.

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This initiative is important to the American people because it addresses some important issues. These issues are public safety and public health. Medications that are left in the home often become the object of abuse. They are readily available and easy to reach for. This puts families at risk for misuse of the drug, or even abuse of the drug. Rates of drug abuse in the American people are at alarmingly high numbers. The Drug Take Back Day is one way to address drug abuse by removing unwanted prescription drugs from the home medicine cabinet.

Not only does the Drug Take Back Day address the prescription drug abuse problem, but it is also an environmental issue. It is common for people to dispose of their drugs by flushing them down the toilet. Unfortunately, the drug enters the water supply and rivers of America. Researchers have analyzed both rivers and the water supply, finding traces of prescription drugs. The Drug Take Back Day then is an attempt to give the public a safe way of disposing of their prescription medications and keeping them out of the drinking water supply.

After the first Drug Take Back Day, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010. It amends the previous Controlled Substance Act. This new act allows the people to take the unwanted and unused drugs to entities that have been approved by the Attorney General to accept them. The act also authorizes long term care facilities (or nursing homes) to dispose of the residents’ unused controlled substances, such as Lortab or Percocet, in certain instances and circumstances. The DEA is currently working on drafting the regulations to put the Act into performance.

If you have unused and unwanted prescription drugs, do not share them with anyone and recognize that if you are taking the drug now because you want to feel the good feeling it gives you, instead of alleviating pain, then it is time to stop and dispose of the drug. Most important of all, do not share these drugs with anyone! Some examples of these drugs include Lortab (hydrocodone), Percocet (oxycodone), MS Contin and oxycontin. These are just a few that may be used for high levels of pain, such as expected after surgery or illness. Call your local law enforcement agencies or public health department to find where you can take these drugs for disposal.