COLUMBIA, SC. – South Carolina residents participating in the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) second National Prescription Drug Take-Back event Saturday turned in 1,225 pounds of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at sites set up throughout the state. This number was more than 2010’s total which was 1,180 pounds.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented, “The staggering national total (309 tons) of prescription drugs turned in clearly saved countless lives and is a step in the right direction to help stem the tide of prescription drug abuse in America. The total number of prescriptions drugs turned in for the state of Georgia speaks volumes towards DEA’s, local law enforcement’s and numerous community partner’s commitment to making prescription drug abuse a top priority in South Carolina.
Four days after last fall’s Take-Back Day, Congress passed legislation amending the Controlled Substances Act to allow the DEA to develop a process for people to safely dispose of their prescription drugs. DEA immediately began developing this process after President Barack Obama signed the Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act of 2010 on October 12.
Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high—more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Studies show that teens who abuse prescription drugs often obtain them from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.
The DEA’s Take-Back events are a significant piece of the White House’s prescription drug abuse prevention strategy released last month by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Purging America’s home medicine cabinets of neglected drugs is one of four strategies for reducing prescription drug abuse and diversion laid out in Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis. The other strategies include education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; establishing prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states; and increased enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills.
Numerous national organizations joined the DEA and its state and local partners in putting on last weekend’s Take Back Day, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; the American Association of Poison Control Centers; the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; D.A.R.E. America; the Federation of State Medical Boards; the U. S. Health Resources and Services Administration; the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the National Association of Attorneys General; the National Family Partnership; the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy; the National District Attorneys Association; the National Sheriffs’ Association; and The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Stay tuned for a third prescription drug take back event this fall.