DEA’s Third Annual Takeback Event.
PHOENIX, AZ. – Today, Douglas W. Coleman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced that over 6,000 pounds of unwanted or expired medications were collected during the third Prescription Drug Take-Back Event. When the results of the three statewide Take-Back Days to date are combined, the DEA and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed over 18,355 pounds (9.178 tons) of medications from circulation in the past 13 months.
“For the third time, the Prescription Drug Take Back event was a huge success,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. “The removal for safe disposal of over 3 tons of prescription drugs is an invaluable tool that Arizona law enforcement agencies are pleased to provide to the communities of our state. DEA is grateful for the cooperation of our local law enforcement partners for participating in this ground-breaking operation to reduce the availability of potentially addictive and dangerous prescription medications and increase awareness of this critical public health issue.”
Over 55 state, local and tribal law enforcement partners throughout Arizona hosted 92 collection sites where Arizona residents came out in force to support the third statewide prescription drug “Take-Back” campaign and rid their households of unused, unwanted and expired medication.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month. Often, some of these medicines languish in the home and 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, heroin, and inhalants combined, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Studies show that the majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from family and friends for free, including from the home medicine cabinet. Many Americans simply do not know how to properly dispose of their unused or expired medicine, often flushing it down the toilet or throwing it away. These methods can pose both safety and environmental hazards.
On October 19, 2011, the United States Attorney’s Office, DEA, Arizona HIDTA, DrugFreeAZ.org, The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate, held an educational summit in Phoenix to identify and respond to the complex issues that influence the abuse and use of prescription drugs in Arizona’s communities.
Prescription drug disposal and the DEA’s Take-Back events are significant pieces of the White House’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan released this year by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Purging 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 states; and increased enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills.