Authorities Ask for Safe Disposal of Unused Prescription Medications
By Alexandra Mendoza
This weekend, San Diegans will have the opportunity to safely get rid of any prescription drugs they may have in their medicine cabinets.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is once again having their nationwide campaign to curb access to highly addictive medications. Last year alone, an estimated 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, with over 70 percent attributed to opioids, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many of these drugs, originally prescribed to relieve pain, sit unused in medicine cabinets where they could be taken by young family members, visitors or even addicts breaking into homes looking for these kinds of pills.
To address the issue, local, state, and federal agencies are joining forces this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 44 drop-off points throughout San Diego county where residents can get rid of their unused medications.
Officials stressed that all drug drop-offs would be completely confidential. “No questions will be asked, no pictures taken, no nothing,” said Karen Flowers, DEA special agent in San Diego, during a press conference.
Over the past eight years, the DEA and its partner agencies have collected nearly 10 million pounds of unused/expired medication during Take Back events. “That’s a lot of pills that are no longer on the streets,” underscored Flowers.
Officials urged people to turn in these drugs to ensure that they are destroyed. Flushing drugs down the toilet can harm the environment, they added.
“It is important to not just throw them away, because you never know in whose hands they could end up. It is important that they are destroyed,” stressed DEA Agent Ana Vazquez.
The U.S. opioid crisis has reached the level of a national public health emergency. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Conover told the media that “during this press conference, two people have died in the United States due to opioid use. Every nine minutes a person dies in our country,” he lamented. “This program is one critical aspect of fighting this epidemic.”
Conover also stated that his office will go after any doctors or pharmacies that prescribe these medications illegally.
San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan urged San Diegans to participate in this event that “could save lives.” “Every day,” she said, “I come across tragic stories, parents who have lost children or who have lost a loved one due to this opioid crisis.”
She spoke of a mother whose son started using pain medication after a sports injury; he then became addicted and it cost him his life. “When his pills ran out, he started going through medicine cabinets at friends’ houses,” she said.
For the location of the medication drop-off points, please visit takebackday.dea.gov.