Local

DEA holds third National Prescription Drug Take Back Saturday

Unused and expired prescription medications will be collected for disposal this Saturday for DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
Unused and expired prescription medications will be collected for disposal this Saturday for DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
iStockphoto

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will hold another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday to help people dispose of their unused and expired prescription medication.

Collection sites will be set up at law enforcement agencies and community centers across the nation between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This Saturday’s take-back will be the third that DEA has hosted in the past two years. Collections held in April of this year and September of last year yielded 309 tons of prescription drugs.

A study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2009 found that seven million Americans aged 12 or older abuse prescription drugs. Most of these users obtained the drugs from a friend or relative who was prescribed the medicine legally by a doctor.

The initiative aims to get excess drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets to prevent misuse, especially by youth. The nonprofit Partnership at Drugfree.org, a drug education resource for parents, says that 1 in 5 teenagers have abused prescription painkillers, according to their website. They report that young people may experiment with prescription drugs to cope with depression and stress as well as to perform better in school.

Sarah Pullen, Public Information Officer for DEA’s L.A. division, said collection boxes will be available at 130 sites in the greater Los Angeles area for people to dispose of their prescription drugs, no questions asked. After they are collected, “the drugs will be sealed and taken to an incinerator that is environmentally set up to have these things destroyed," Pullen said.

DEA says the Take Back events are a temporary measure the agency has set up until they finalize a process for the regular, safe disposal of prescription drugs. DEA began working on this process after President Obama signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act in 2010.

DEA could not provide specifics on the final process, but Pullen says the process will be in place by the end of 2012.

“Our hope is to make this easier for communities, for residents to get these drugs out of their homes and make them a little safer,” she said.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Individuals interested in finding a collection site near them can visit the DEA website