Once again, police departments and law enforcement agencies across Rhode Island will participate in the very popular Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday, September 27th, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Visit www.dea.gov or www.riag.ri.gov for a list of participating police departments and other locations.
Created by the DEA, Prescription Drug Take Back Day gives the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. Since the program began in 2010, Americans have turned in more than over 4.1 million pounds, or 2,100 tons, of pharmaceuticals.
Recently, United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DEA is expanding regulations to allow pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other authorized collectors to serve as authorized drop-off sites for unused prescription drugs. Under the new policy, long-term care facilities will also be able to collect controlled substances turned in by residents of those facilities, and prescription drug users everywhere will have permission to directly mail in their unused medications to authorized collectors.
With the new DEA regulations in place, this Saturday will be the last organized Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but as they have done in the past, local and state law enforcement agencies will continue to offer drop-off locations.
According to a 2013 survey, roughly 6.5 million people nationally ages 12 and older are current nonmedical users of prescription drugs. As recently as 2011, more than half of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States involved prescription drugs—and opioid pain relievers were involved in nearly 17,000 of those deaths.
Rhode Island continues to lead the region in the number of fatal overdoses from heroin and prescription drugs this year. Earlier this month, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported that fatal overdoses had climbed to 142 individuals this year alone. At a conference in Providence, a professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Brown University reported that a majority of individuals get their drugs through doctors’ prescriptions (27 percent) or friends and relatives (23 percent) as compared to illegal drug dealers (15 percent). The professor also reported that Rhode Island is one of the top states in the nation in its percentage of people seeking prescriptions for opioids for pain relief.
“The National DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day has been successful in removing tons of unwanted and unneeded medications from people’s homes, including highly addictive opioids; removing these medications from our homes makes our families safer,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “Many teens’ first drug use experience is a no-longer needed prescription that was left unused in a medicine cabinet. Removing these potentially deadly unwanted prescription drugs and having them collected and disposed of properly is important to our communities. This program would not be possible without the continued commitment and dedication of our state and local law enforcement partners.”
“As much attention that has been paid to overdoses from fentanyl laced heroin earlier this year, reports indicate that another killer continues to hide in plain sight in our medicine cabinets. In fact, reports show that nearly four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug have obtained it from their parents’ medicine cabinet,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “Easy access and subsequent over-reliance and abuse of opioids leads people down a dangerous and potentially deadly path. If we are going to break the cycle of drug abuse and addiction, we need to take a multi-prong approach, which includes making it easy for people to safely dispose of prescription medication. I applaud the DEA for the new regulations and urge all pharmacies and healthcare facilities in Rhode Island to consider offering this service to customers.”
“The proper and timely disposal of unwanted prescription drugs is something that every Rhode Island household should undertake at least once a year. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day serves as a reminder to all Rhode Island families to perform this much needed task. I encourage all families to make the effort to get out this Saturday and dispose of any unused and unwanted prescription drugs at one of the authorized drop-off sites throughout Rhode Island,” said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré.
Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Department of Public Safety added, "Any opportunity and or initiative to remove any narcotic from the street is a worthwhile endeavor. It is our hope that this program and others continue to pound out the message about the dangers and consequences of controlled substances in our community."
Elwood M. Johnson, Jr., Chief of the Richmond Police and President of the RI Police Chiefs Association added, “The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association is proud to join our federal, state, and local partners by participating in this event because we recognize that it has the potential to save lives and decrease the likelihood of harmful incidents involving prescription medications. Many of Rhode Island’s municipal police departments have installed secure drug collection boxes in their lobbies to afford the public with a convenient means of disposing of expired, unwanted and unused meds at any time of day or night.
“We commend the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for pioneering this concept in 2010, which has been very successful in both the amounts collected, and with raising public awareness as to the inherent dangers of inadvertently stockpiling such prescriptions in residential homes. It is worthwhile to note that our police departments have observed opioid prescriptions among the many meds turned in at our facilities, in a year when Rhode Island and other states have faced an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. This program provides law enforcement with an opportunity to proactively remove those types of addictive drugs from the community before they have the potential to do further harm.”
“Walgreens is proud to partner with these great agencies to help get unused prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets and safely disposed of. We’ve been involved in Drug Take Back Days for many years now and look forward to once again being part of such a worthwhile community event,” said Ralph Seavey, District Manager of Walgreens. “Walgreens, as America's number one Drugstore, not only provides for the safe dispensing of prescription medication, but also offers options to safely dispose of them when they are no longer needed. All our stores currently offer for sale a means of safely disposing prescription medications by sealing them in a special envelope and sending it to a disposal facility through the U. S. mail. In light of the government's announcement on new regulations for returning unused medications to pharmacies, we are studying the DEA's new regulatory requirements and considering the options they present to us. We are always looking for ways to meet the needs of our patients.”
The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.