Nearly 10 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs in recent years, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
To keep unwanted medications out of communities and water supplies, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration holds National Presciption Drug Take Back Day twice a year. The next one is this Saturday and will give details on how people can keep their unwanted medications from being lost, stolen or misused, helping to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.
The recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows well over two-thirds of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, and often from the home medicine cabinet. Drug Take Back Day provides people with a safe way to dispose of medication.
“We want to give you a good opportunity to get rid of them safely, no questions asked,” says Cathy Cullen with Rimrock, a substance abuse treatment center in Billings, a group helping DEA staff a take back site in the city.
“You can just bring them in. The DEA agents will be with us. So, it’s just a safe way to get those expired prescriptions, or just even prescriptions you don’t need anymore, off the streets so there is no chance of them getting into the wrong hands,” Cullen says.
Drug Take Back Day in Montana is sponsored by the U.S. DEA, Montana Justice Department and local and tribal law enforcement agencies. Across Montana there will be 26 locations taking the prescription drugs from 10 A.M. until 2 P.M. on Saturday.
Billings will have two drop off sites: in the Billings Heights at First Interstate Bank parking lot on Main Street and the Elks Lodge parking lot on Lewis Avenue.
Cullen says these collection sites are a safe way to dispose of the drugs.
“A lot of us have been taught a long time ago to just flush them down the toilet. Well, unfortunately that’s just contaminated our wastewater and everything else, and that’s just not a good idea to do that,” Cullen says.
Throwing them in the garbage is not recommended either.
New this year, Cullen says DEA will also be accepting electronic cigarettes and their cartridges.
During drug take back events in April, Montana collected more than 4,100 pounds of prescription drugs. Nationwide that haul by the DEA was 468 tons of expired or unwanted prescription drugs.
There are 50 permanent drop box locations for prescription drugs around Montana that operate year round.