CHICAGO, IL. - On Saturday, April 30, 2011, there were over 5,300 medication collection sites sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which accepted unused, expired, and unwanted prescription drugs from community members in every state, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. The program was made possible through partnership with community, public health, and law enforcement throughout the country.
Within the Chicago Field Division of the DEA, which consists of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, 41,331 pounds of medication was collected during the four-hour event held this past Saturday. This total represents the highest amount of medication turned in compared to the other 20 DEA Field Divisions located across the United States. The Chicago Field Division also collected the largest amount of medication during the first Drug Take Back held on September 30, 2010, when 29,456 pounds of medication was collected.
There were 417 collection sites available in various communities throughout the five-state area. Within a 50 mile radius of Chicago, there were over 100 separate locations. Nationwide, there was an approximately 25% increase in the weight of medication submitted compared to last year’s Drug Take Back. On that date 242,000 pounds of medication was collected nationwide.
The initiative addressed a vital public safety and health concern. The number of emergency room visits attributable to pharmaceuticals alone is up 97% between 2004 and 2008. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. In fact, recent surveys reveal that 63% of teens believe that prescription drugs are easy to get from the medicine cabinet of friends and family. Additionally, the survey revealed that 1 in 7 teens admit to abusing prescription drugs to get high in the past year.
“This proactive approach to addressing prescription drug abuse removed a massive amount of unused, unwanted, and expired medications from homes. Collectively working together, community members have kept controlled prescription drugs from potentially ending up in the wrong hands, while the event also raised the level of community awareness about the dangers of prescription medication diversion and abuse,” stated Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the DEA.
Members of the community are encouraged to learn more about prescription drug abuse, as well as other drugs of abuse, at www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com.