U.S. Attorney's Office Joins Medicine Abuse Project and DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
BIRMINGHAM – The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama has joined the Partnership at Drugfree.org to promote its Medicine Abuse Project, a multi-year campaign that kicks off Sunday, Sept. 23, to alert people to the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance announced.
In conjunction with the campaign, the U.S. Attorney's Office is working with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to promote its National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 29. This will be the DEA's fifth time collecting unused, unneeded and expired prescription drugs.
Medicine abuse is a growing problem among teens in the U.S., with one in six teens taking a medicine to get high or change their mood. The U.S. Attorney's Office is joining the Partnership's new national campaign in its goal to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine, and to urge individuals to get educated to do their part to control medicine abuse.
"Alabama has one of the highest, if not the highest rate of prescription narcotic use in the nation," Vance said. "That translates to high levels of abuse of narcotic pain killers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine," she said. "It is critical to get legally prescribed, but no longer needed drugs out of circulation so they are not available for abuse. I strongly encourage everyone to clear out their medicine cabinets and participate in the take-back this Saturday."
"Prescription Drugs are the new crack cocaine. Consequently, the prescription drug epidemic is present in each and every state in this country and it cannot be resolved with enforcement alone," said DEA New Orleans Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jimmie S. Fox III. "DEA recognizes the solution involves a proactive response from all affected parties including parents, children and the community as a whole," Fox said.
The last DEA prescription drug take-back was in April. Alabamians turned in 2,953 pounds at 61 collection sites statewide that day. Nationwide, Americans turned in 522,161 pounds of prescription drugs at more than 5,600 sites operated by almost 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners.
When results of the previous four national DEA Take-Back Days are combined, the event has removed more than 1.5 million pounds, or about 774 tons, of medication from circulation. Of that amount, 6,476 pounds were collected in Alabama.
Saturday, Sept. 29, police departments, sheriff's offices and drug task force officers will operate about 34 drug take-back sites across North Alabama, and more than 60 statewide. A list of collections sites in the Northern District of Alabama can be found HERE. The public also can find a nearby collection site by visiting www.dea.gov, clicking on the "Got drugs?" icon, and following the links to a database where they enter their zip code.
It is important to clean out drawers and medicine cabinets and properly dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to being diverted for misuse and abuse. A 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported more Americans abusing prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
The Prescription Drug Take-Back will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It provides a safe and secure way for the public to dispose of medicine that is unsafe or could be abused. It also provides a more environmentally sound way to dispose of medications than throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet, which can lead to ground or water contamination.
Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership at Drugfree.org, thanked U.S. Attorney's Offices across the nation for joining the Partnership, which aims to curb the abuse of medicine while encouraging parents and the public to take action.
"The U.S. Department of Justice has been an active supporter of our innovative community-based prevention programs," Pasierb said. "Forging new relationships with partners in the federal criminal justice community is a significant strategic step forward as we build a sustained public-private initiative. The influential voice of U.S. Attorney's Offices will help greatly in educating parents and teens about the significant and largely underestimated risks of medicine abuse."
For more information about the Medicine Abuse Project, visit www.drugfree.org.
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Joyce White Vance
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