DEA Holds National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to Turn the Tide Against the U.S. Opioid Epidemic

DEA Holds National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to Turn the Tide Against the U.S. Opioid Epidemic
Courtesy/ U.S. Department of Justice. Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA).
October 20th, 2021 | U.S. DEA

OMAHA, Neb. – The Drug Enforcement Administration will host its 21st National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event offers free and anonymous disposal of unneeded medications at more than 4,000 local drop-off locations nationwide.

According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a majority of people who misused a prescription medication obtained the medicine from a family member or friend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that last year, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States, marking the largest number of drug-related deaths ever recorded in a year. Opioid-related deaths accounted for 75 percent of all overdose deaths in 2020.

Across the five state Omaha Division, which includes Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, overdose deaths raised an average of approximately 24 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to the CDC.  Nebraska marked the highest increase of the Division at nearly 44 percent, with 210 people dying from overdose in 2020 as compared to 146 in 2019. South Dakota was the only state in the Omaha Division to record a decrease in overdose deaths. Overdose numbers fell from 88 in 2019 to 74 in 2020, marking a 16 percent decrease.

For more than a decade, DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day has helped Americans easily rid their homes of unneeded medications—those that are old, unwanted, or no longer needed—that too often become a gateway to addiction. Working in close partnership with local law enforcement, Take Back Day has removed more than 7,000 tons of medication from circulation since its inception. These efforts are directly in line with DEA’s priority to combat the rise of overdoses plaguing the United States.

“It’s unfortunate that in our line of work, we’ve seen too many cases where a person’s drug addiction began by abusing prescription medications,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said. “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides a way to safely and anonymously dispose of your unneeded medications. More importantly, it prevents medications from falling into the wrong hands. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to go through cabinets, collect medications and drop them off at a nearby Take Back site.”

DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is more important than ever before. Last month, DEA issued a Public Safety Alert and launched the One Pill Can Kill public awareness campaign to warn Americans of a surge in deadly, fake prescription pills driven by drug traffickers seeking to exploit the U.S. opioid epidemic and prescription pill misuse. Criminal drug networks are shipping chemicals from China to Mexico where they are converted to dangerous substances like fentanyl and methamphetamine and then pressed into pills. The end result—deadly, fake prescription pills—are what these criminal drug networks make and market to prey on Americans for profit. These fake, deadly pills are widely available and deadlier than ever. Fake pills are designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions such as Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Adderall®, Xanax® and other medicines.Criminal drug networks are selling these pills through social media, e-commerce, the dark web and existing distribution networks.

Along with the alert came a warning that the only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Any pills that do not meet this standard are unsafe and potentially deadly. DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day reflects DEA’s commitment to Americans’ safety and health, encouraging the public to remove unneeded medications from their homes as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Liquids (including intravenous solutions), syringes and other sharps, and illicit drugs will not be accepted. DEA will also continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges provided lithium batteries are removed.

A location finder and partner toolbox are available at www.DEATakeBack.com for easy reference to nearby collection sites. Beyond DEA’s Take Back Day, there are also opportunities to regularly and safely dispose of unneeded medications at more than 13,000 pharmacies, hospitals, police departments, and businesses working to help clean out medicine cabinets throughout the year.

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