DEA Drug Take-Back Day coming April 29

DEA Drug Take-Back Day coming April 29

Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston says it’s time again for “Spring cleaning,” time to clear out those cluttered medicine cabinets and dispose of old drugs during the 2017 DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 29. 

Featherston and area DEA agents are encouraging the public’s participation in the biannual event in an effort to deter prescription drug abuse and overdoses that are becoming more and more frequent. 

“Prescription drug overdoses have become an epidemic,” Featherston warned during a press conference April 26. “Overdoses from prescription drugs have eclipsed motor vehicle accident (deaths) and eclipsed gun deaths and violence deaths. It is a huge problem. That is one of the reasons that the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office (are) joining… for this Take-Back Day.”

Parents and grandparents beware, cautioned Featherston. Prescription drug use in teens is on the rise, and most of them are getting the meds right out of their loved ones’ cabinets. 

“What we see often is that people that abuse prescription drugs are often friends, family members – that’s how teenagers will often get started, just finding drugs in the medicine cabinet in people’s bathrooms,” Featherston asserted. “Citizens can bring their leftover prescription medications, anything from prescriptions for adults, kids, also your animal medications. You are encouraged to bring those and get rid of them.”

Getting rid of the drugs safely is a big concern, and one of the reason’s the Drug Take-Back Days were established years ago, said Featherston. 

“One of the problems is, when people get rid of their medications, they often will throw them in the toilet and flush them. That is one of the things our water treatment system cannot control. They cannot filter out medicines getting thrown in the sewer. I encourage all citizens to take a minute, do a little but of a clean out, a little Spring cleaning, but finding all their old medications, any old medications, whether animal or human and bring those to those ten locations so the DEA can destroy them properly.”

Other than just getting rid of old medications, Featherston advises people to “take stock of what is going on with their medications.”

“If you have teenagers around,” he said, “you want to render those locations where you keep medicine safe,” which could mean locking it up, if necessary. “It’s time for people to realize what is going on in your own home with your own medications. Take stock in those and render those medications safe.”

Featherston says he has seen a disturbing trend developing with prescription drug abuse. 

“We’re seeing (prescription) drug abuse lead to heroin use and other heavier drugs,” he explained. “Believe it or not, there are more prescription drug overdoses than overdoses on other illegal drugs, like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. That ought to shock everyone. That ought to shock you that the problem is so big. And it’s happening right here in Jefferson County. It’s happening all over the Eastern District of Texas. It’s happening all over the nation. We see a huge increase in prescription abuse that has led to heroin use, methamphetamine and other drugs.” 

Associate Special Agent in Charge Sherod Jones of the Houston DEA Office said drug take-back events around Southeast Texas have been a whopping success. 

“Historically in Beaumont and the Beaumont area, going back to September 2013, we’ve collected 3,500 pounds of unwanted, unused pharmaceuticals… Going back to September 2010, nationwide, 7 million pounds have been turned in.”

“This year alone,” added Featherston, “there are 4,700 drop off locations around the nation.”

Ten area locations provide Southeast Texans with a choice. The drop-off is free, anonymous and “no questions asked,” said Featherston, so the fact that the collections sites are primarily at police stations should not deter anyone from dropping off prescription drugs, whether they were legally possessed or illegally attained. 

Sherod advised people remove labels from the pills bottles prior to drop-off to protect their privacy.

Resident Agent in Charge  Tim Duriso of the Beaumont DEA Office said at least two officers will be on-site at Rogers Park for the collection event. The other locations are all at police stations. He also mentioned that the Port Arthur Police Department has a collection box in the lobby for citizens’ year-round prescription drug drop-off needs. Otherwise, if you choose to wait for the special DEA events, there are two Drug Take-Back Days per year. 

On April 29, the following 10 locations are Southeast Texas area collection sites for medications for the 2017 DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: Rogers Park, 1455 Dowlen Rd., Beaumont; Lamar University Police Department, 211 Red Bird Ln., Beaumont; Orange Police Department, 201 Eighth St., Orange; Port Arthur Police Department, 645 Fourth St., Port Arthur; Lumberton Police Department, 120 East Chance Rd. #A, Lumberton; Silsbee Police Department, 1104 N. Fifth St., Silsbee; Sour Lake Police Department, 625 Highway 105 W, Sour Lake; Jasper Police Department, 555 S. Main St., Jasper; Liberty Police Department, 1906 Lakeland Dr., Liberty; and Cleveland Police Department, 226 Peach St., Cleveland.