By Jill Penley
In the past, it was commonplace to just simply toss old or unwanted medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Environmental and health officials now caution against this practice, citing possible contamination of water supply and ease of access for individuals seeking these types of substances for nefarious purposes. On Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give residents the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.
“Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Division, commented, “DEA’s fourteenth Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign was a huge success both locally and nationally. While Tennesseans turned in 68,053 pounds of unwanted or expired medications, nationally, a record-setting 912,305 pounds of expired and unwanted prescription medications were collected in more than 5,300 sites made available across the United States.”
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication taken from a medicine cabinet. Removing these drugs from home will also decrease the likelihood residents will become dependent upon them or use them outside of a doctor’s recommended guidelines.
Many communities in Tennessee and throughout the country are participating in National Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday. Johnson County residents can visit the following locations to utilize free, permanent drug-take back services on this special day: Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, Mountain City Police Department, Shady Valley Fire Department and Butler Fire Department. While liquids, needles and sharps mercury thermometers, oxygen containers, chemo/radioactive substances, pressurized canisters, illicit drugs or other medical supplies cannot be accepted, anyone with unused, unwanted or expired medications in pill form is encouraged to take part in the program.
Opioid abuse, which is at epidemic levels in the U.S., remains a top public health concern and the DEA’s “Take-Back” initiative is one of several strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion in the nation.Additional strategies include education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; establishing prescription drug monitoring programs in all 50 states; and increased enforcement to address illegal methods of prescription drug diversion.