Drug Takeback Set For Saturday
This Saturday the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and almost 4,000 of its national, tribal, and community law enforcement partners will hold the ninth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Americans can take their expired, unneeded, or unwanted prescription drugs to one of over 5,200 collection sites across the country between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Locally, the Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse and the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office will be combining forces to take up the public’s unwanted drugs.
Wetzel County residents can find a collection site at New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department (Ohio Street) and Norris Pharmacy in Pine Grove. “We hope it continues to be as successful as it has been in the past,” WCSO Chief Deputy Mike Koontz states.
Brandi Murray of the WCCADA agrees. “The Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse had been very pleased in the past at the turnout of citizens doing their part to keep prescription medications off the street,” she notes. “The number of pounds of prescription medications that has been collected over the past nine takeback events has been very impressive and we have every reason to believe this takeback day will be just as successful.
“The citizens of Wetzel County are passionate about keeping their community safe from substance abuse and this provides a perfect opportunity to be proactive in that fight.”
Murray also credits the sheriff’s department with part of the success of the past takeback events. She describes their help and teamwork with the coalition as “tremendous.”
While these are the only manned sites in Wetzel County on Saturday, the public can find collection sites across the country by visiting www.dea.gov, clicking on the “Got Drugs?” icon, and following the links to a database where they enter their zip code. Or they can call 800-882-9539. Only pills and other solids, like patches, can be brought to the collection sites-liquids and needles or other sharps will not be accepted.
Unused medications in homes create a public health and safety concern, because they can be accidentally ingested, stolen, misused, and abused. While the number of Americans who currently abuse prescription drugs dropped in 2013 to 6.5 million from 6.8 million in 2012, that is still more than double the number of those using heroin, cocaine, and hallucinogens like LSD and Ecstasy combined, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In addition, 22,134 Americans died in 2011 from overdoses of prescription medications, including 16,651 from narcotic painkillers, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey of users cited above also found that the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
The public’s enormous response to DEA’s eight prior National Take Back Days demonstrates its recognition of the need for a way to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous prescription drugs. Last April Americans turned in over 780,000 pounds (390 tons) of prescription drugs. Since its first National Take Back Day in September 2010, DEA has collected more than 4.1 million pounds (over 2,100 tons) of prescription drugs throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.
DEA began hosting National Prescription Drug Take-Back events four years ago because at that time the Controlled Substances Act made no legal provision for patients to rid themselves of unwanted controlled substance prescription drugs except to give them to law enforcement; it banned pharmacies and hospitals from accepting them. Most people flushed their unused prescription drugs down the toilet, threw them in the trash, or kept them in the household medicine cabinet, resulting in contamination of the water supply and the theft and abuse of the prescription drugs.
The week after DEA’s first Take Back Day, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 was enacted. The act authorized DEA to develop and implement regulations that outline methods the public and long-term care facilities can use to transfer pharmaceutical controlled substances and other prescription drugs to authorized collectors for the purpose of disposal. While those regulations were being developed and approved, the DEA sponsored seven more take-back events.
DEA’s new disposal regulations were published in the Federal Register on Sept. 9 and can be viewed at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov or at www.regulations.gov. DEA’s goal in implementing the act is to expand the options available to safely and securely dispose of potentially dangerous prescription medications on a routine basis. At this time, DEA has no plans to sponsor more nationwide Take-Back Days in order to give authorized collectors the opportunity to provide this valuable service to their communities.
Murray states that she has not heard confirmation yet on this matter, but added that citizens do not have to wait for takeback days. “They can dispose of their meds at the permanent prescription drug drop-off boxes that the coalition was responsible for implementing at the New Martinsville Police Department 24/7 and at the Hundred West Virginia State Police barracks from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.”