The federal Drug Enforcement Administration and its local partners around the country are hosting a prescription medication take-back day Saturday, April 29.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at thousands of sites nationally, people may dispose of expired prescription pills or patches, in an attempt to reduce the risk of someone abusing the medications.
“Why shouldn’t our goal be to get this stuff all safely disposed of and away from dangerous hands, where we don’t want this to end up?” asked DEA Agent Jon DeLena at an event in Montpelier, Vermont promoting the medication take-back day.
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According to the DEA, at last October’s drug take-back day, Americans turned in more than 730,000 pounds of unneeded or unwanted prescription medications.
With the nation in the grips of a heroin addiction epidemic, and with a majority of heroin addicts starting out by misusing painkiller pills, the campaign is billed as one small step toward helping turn that crisis around.
“It won’t happen overnight,” Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said in remarks urging Vermonters to take part in Saturday’s effort. “But each step will get us closer to our goal, and we all have a role to play.”
The Winooski Police Department maintains a secure box in its lobby which collects medicines all year long, not just during the DEA’s special nationwide events.
“If you have medicines that you’re no longer using, they’re old prescriptions, they’re old over-the-counter drugs—get rid of them,” said Winooski Officer Derrick Kendrew. “There’s no sense to keeping them.”
Medicines are not supposed to be flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash, because they are a risk to contaminate water supplies and other facets of the environment.
Most people who misuse prescription painkillers obtain the doses from friends or family members, commonly out of medicine cabinets or kitchen drawers, said Barbara Cimaglio, the deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, citing research on drug diversion. If unneeded pills are just sitting around, they could be perfect targets for misuse, the DEA said.
In 2014, Vermont moms Laurey Burris and Kristin Lundy, who both lost sons to overdoses, spoke to necn and urged people everywhere to be more mindful of proper medicine storage and disposal.
The mothers said many families could help boost public health by cutting access to pills which someone could steal to either consume themselves or sell or provide to someone else.
“It’s part of our responsibility to our society,” Burris said in September of 2014, describing proper medication storage and safety.
“If somebody takes them out of your medication cabinet, someday down the road, it could end up in the hands of your neighbor’s child,” Lundy warned.
The website https://www.dea.gov/index.shtml lists locations where you can drop off unneeded prescription meds Saturday, so the DEA can properly dispose of them.
The DEA can only accept pills or medicated patches, not needles or liquids, it said in an announcement of the campaign.