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Press Release

DEA Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs at Locations Around New Mexico on Saturday

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
HOPE Initiative Partners Support DEA’s 14th National Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE – The U.S. Attorney’s Office and UNM’s Health and Sciences Center are encouraging the public to participate in DEA’s 14th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm as part of the prevention and education component of the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative. 


During the last National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in April 2017, Americans turned in 900,386 pounds – 450 tons – of prescription drugs at 5,498 sites staffed by DEA and more than 4,000 of its state, local and tribal law enforcement partners.  Here in New Mexico, DEA and nearly 50 law enforcement partners collected more than 6,000 pounds of medication at 74 collection sites throughout the state. 


“Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest growing drug problem.  More people die each year from prescription painkiller overdoses than from heroin, cocaine or any other illegal drug,” said Karen I. Flowers, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration-El Paso Division.  “By continuing to offer safe and secure options for our citizens to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs, we are reducing the threat that these drugs pose to public health.”


“Properly disposing of unused prescription drugs is a simple and easy way for all of us to help fight this deadly epidemic that’s killing too many people and the problem is getting worse,” said Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney. “Protect our families by properly disposing of your unused, unwanted and expired medicine.”


DEA’s National Take Back 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.


Unused medicines in the home are a problem because the majority of the 6.4 million Americans who abused prescription drugs in 2015, including almost 4 million who abused prescription painkillers, say they obtained those drugs from friends and family, including from a home medicine cabinet, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released last month.  Some painkiller abusers move on to heroin:  four out of five new heroin users started with painkillers.  Almost 30,000 people – 78 a day – died from overdosing on these painkillers or heroin in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Members of the public can find a nearby Prescription Drug Take-Back collection site by visiting, clicking on the “Got Drugs?” icon, and entering their zip code into the search window, or they can call 800-882-9539.  Only pills and other solids, like patches, will be accepted at DEA Drug Take Back collection sites – the public should not bring liquids, needles or other sharp items to take back sites.  This service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. 


The HOPE Initiative was launched in January 2015 by the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to the national opioid epidemic, which has had a disproportionately devastating impact on New Mexico.  Opioid addiction has taken a toll on public safety, public health and the economic viability of our communities.  Working in partnership with the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), the Albuquerque Public Schools and other community stakeholders, HOPE’s principal goals are to protect our communities from the dangers associated with heroin and opioid painkillers and reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in New Mexico.  The HOPE Initiative is comprised of five components:  (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning.  Learn more about the New Mexico HOPE Initiative at

Updated October 27, 2017

Prescription Drugs