Residents of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska turned in 35,058 pounds (17.5 tons) of prescription medications on Oct. 28. The following are the results broken down by state:
• Washington — 71 collection sites which resulted in 15,473 pounds (7.7 tons) removed from circulation.
• Idaho — 30 collection sites which resulted in 5,640 (2.8 tons) removed from circulation. This is a record collection for
• Oregon — 56 collection sites which resulted in 10,210 pounds (5.1 tons) removed from circulation.
• Alaska — 18 collection sites which resulted in 3,735 pounds (1.9 tons) removed from circulation.
DEA Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis was extremely pleased with the collection results, stating, “The fight is on and our communities have jumped into the ring with both feet in this effort to reduce prescription drug abuse.”
Americans nationwide did their part to reduce the opioid crisis by bringing the DEA and its more than 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners a record-setting 912,305 pounds—456 tons—of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,300 collection sites. That is almost six tons more than was collected at last spring’s event. This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 9,015,668 pounds, or 4,508 tons.
Now in its eighth year, this event continues to remove ever-higher amounts of opioids and other medicines from the nation’s homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens. The DEA action comes just days after President Donald J. Trump announced the mobilization of his entire Administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis.
This year, the DEA worked with its tribal law enforcement partners to set up 115 collection sites on tribal lands. Opioid addiction impacts Native American communities just as it does all parts of American society. By partnering with FBI, BIA, and tribal law enforcement, the DEA was able to greatly expand tribal participation in the Take Back program. DEA remains committed to supporting public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
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. DEA launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—posed potential safety and health hazards.
Helping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications.
The DEA’s next Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 28, 2018.