Discard Unwanted Drugs: DEA’s Pill Take Back Day
CEDAR RAPIDS – On Saturday, April 30th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will provide the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. This is the eleventh opportunity in six years that DEA has offered this free service.
The American Society of Addiction and Medicine reported in a 2016 opioid addiction factsheet that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014. For opiate-based drugs – both heroin and prescription pain-killers – a high potential for addiction exists no matter the type of drug. Eastern Iowa has experienced a rash of recent heroin overdoses and deaths.
United States Attorney Kevin W. Techau stated, “The Drug Enforcement Administration’s “Pill Take Back Day” has been very successful and offers an anonymous and free opportunity to rid our medicine cabinets of unwanted pills.” Techau went on to add, “The threat of prescription drug abuse leading to more serious drug addictions is real. This Saturday is a day our community should come together to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic crossing our nation and impacting our citizens.”
Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. 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, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
DEA’s pill drop off sites available on April 30th can be accessed through the Iowa Governor’s Office on Drug Control Policy website at: http://www.iowa.gov/odcp/. Under the heading “Important Information,” click on Prescription Drug Disposal and link to its site identified under the heading “Take Back Events.” DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Those unable to participate next Saturday are offered year around opportunities in Iowa to discard unused, expired and unwanted medications at locations around the state. To find those locations, access the website above and select the same link. Iowa’s year around “Take Back Kiosks” link displays a map of disposal locations.
For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 30 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website. You may also follow the activities and events of the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative on Facebook.
Follow the office on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.
US Attorney Kevin Techau with Assistant USA Pat Reinert and CRPD Officer Al Fear who heads up the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative standing by a pill drop box at the Cedar Rapids Police Department.