Drug Take Back

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (T.D.M.H.S.A.S.), A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, Mountain City Police Department, and E.T.S.U. College of Public Health hosted a Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 29, 2022.

Collection sites were set up at three locations in Johnson County: Mountain City Town Hall, Butler Fire Department, and Shady Valley Fire Department.

“We appreciate the community coming together and our partnership with local law enforcement officials to support this effort every spring and fall,” said A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition Executive Director Trish Burchette.

The biannual event is an opportunity to properly dispose of expired medications or medications that are no longer needed. Approximately forty pounds equaling thousands of unwanted drugs, were dropped off by residents during the morning event.

“Whether it’s a recent surgery, dental procedure, or clearing out a home after the death of a loved one, there are so many situations where people have mass quantities of medications just sitting around,” said T.D.M.H.S.A.S. Commissioner Marie Williams, L.C.S.W., “These medications, including prescription opioid pain relievers and stimulants, can be habit-forming leading to addiction or overdose.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 92,000 people died in 2020 from a drug overdose. The number was reported even higher in 2021, with 108,000 deaths due to drug overdose. More than 71,000 deaths were reportedly related to Fentanyl; a prescription synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain. Since the medication is fifty times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, it has the potential to be deadly when misused.

Williams said, “With deadly doses of illicit fentanyl being pressed into counterfeit pills, there’s never been a more important time to take back your medications so that young people never begin experimenting with medications they find in the home.”

 On Take Back Day, community organizations, including Tennessee’s Substance Abuse Prevention Coalitions, partner with local law enforcement to collect medications and share information about their activities to prevent addiction. Medications can be safely and securely disposed of with no questions asked. After being ordered, the drugs are destroyed in an incinerator.

This event offers a way for the community to dispose of unwanted medications safely. One local law enforcement official said, “medications should never be flushed down the toilet or the drain, so they don’t end up in our water source.”

Additional places are available year-round to drop off unwanted drugs for residents needing to dispose of old or unwanted medications unable to attend Take Back Days.

 For more information and to locate drop-off sites, Tn.gov.