Prescription drug disposal available year round

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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) collected almost 366 tons of prescription medication during its most recent National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 22. Local DEA Agent Tim Duriso said in Southeast Texas, a whopping 600 pounds of prescription meds were collected.

According to information from the DEA, the success of the event proves people are holding onto prescription drugs they no longer need or want. Many people kept the drugs because they didn’t know what else to do with them, at least until a semi-annual Drug Take Back Day, but anyone may dispose of their drugs year-round at select locations. The closest one in Southeast Texas is at the Port Arthur Police Department (PAPD), 645 Fourth St. in Port Arthur. Just like during the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the medication may be disposed of anonymously, no questions asked. PAPD even has a drop box in the lobby, making it easy to get rid of old medicine cabinet clutter.

The DEA launched its National Prescription Drug Take Back Day six years ago, and Americans continue to turn out in large numbers to rid their homes of unused medications, including controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) such as painkillers, tranquilizers and stimulants.

Oct. 22, the public turned in 731,269 pounds — almost 366 tons — of medication to the DEA and more than 4,000 of its community partners at almost 5,200 collection sites nationwide. Over the life of the program, 7.1 million pounds (more than 3,500 tons) of prescription drugs has been removed from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers and nightstands by citizens around the country.

Duriso said he sees more people at every subsequent event.

“We had nine locations available for dropping off prescription medications this time, at multiple police departments around the area including the Lamar University Police Department, and at Rogers Park,” Duriso said. “I think the turnout has increased with each event.”

“Take back programs offer a safe, simple, and anonymous way to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the wrong hands and prevent substance abuse,” said Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator. 

Unused medicines in the home are a problem because the majority of the 6.4 million Americans who abused CPDs in 2015, including the almost 4 million who abused prescription painkillers, say they obtained those drugs from friends and family, including from a home medicine cabinet, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released in September. Some painkiller abusers move on to heroin, reports the DEA. According to its information, four out of five new heroin users started with painkillers. Almost 30,000 people, or 78 people per day, died from overdosing on these painkillers or heroin in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To find one of the thousands of collection sites between Take Back Days besides the PAPD, go to apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch/spring/main?execution=e1s1 or www.rxdrugdropbox.org.

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