BILLINGS – Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson will join the Drug Enforcement Administration in support of the 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 24. The biannual event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at sites across Montana. The event is an effort to rid homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.
In addition to DEA’s National Drug Take Back Day on April 24, prescription drugs can be disposed of any day throughout the year at any of the 11,000 authorized collectors. For more information on collection sites, visit: https://apps2.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch/spring/main?execution=e1s1.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in homes are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses from these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
“The DEA’s Take Back Day is a great reminder to get rid of unneeded and expired prescriptions, not only on April 24, but also on any day of the year. Prescription drugs often end up in the wrong hands, fueling an epidemic of opioid deaths and overdoses. Montanans can help protect their families, friends and community by participating in the DEA Take Back event to safely dispose of unused prescription medications,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.
“We now face a national epidemic reaching every corner of America. Prescription medications often end up in the wrong hands, fueling an epidemic that kills more Americans than car accidents,” said DEA Montana Resident Agent in Charge Stacy Zinn-Brittain. “The power to make a difference starts at home, beginning with returning the unused, unwanted or expired medications that each American keeps in their homes.”
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that opioid overdose deaths have increased during the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC issued an alert in December indicating a significant increase in overdose deaths from August 2019 through Aug. 1, 2020, including concerning trends during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the United States, 85,500 people died of an overdose in just one year, from August 2019 to August 2020. This is the largest number of drug overdoses on record in the country within a one-year period and a 27 percent increase in deaths year over year. While many of these deaths are attributed to synthetic opioids (fentanyl), and while the CDC is seeing a decline in deaths attributed to prescription opioids, there are still an alarming number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids.
To keep everyone safe, collection sites will follow local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. Given the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, DEA wants to ensure that the public is aware of other ways they can dispose of unwanted prescription drugs without having to leave their homes. More information is available at: https://takebackday.dea.gov/
During the last Take Back Day held on Oct. 24, 2020, DEA collected a record amount of drugs since the program began in 2010. With a total of 4,153 law enforcement participants at 4,587 collection sites, the event brough in a total weight of 985,392 pounds, or 492.7 tons, of drugs. This brings the total weight collected to 13.68 million pounds, or more than 6,842 tons, of prescription drugs collected in the history of the program. Collection results may include materials other than prescription drugs.
During the Oct. 24, 2020 event, Montanans turned in 2,251 pounds of prescription drugs at 20 collection sites.
For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 24 Take Back Day event, go to www.DEATakeBack.com.