Healthy Living: DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 23

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Prescription drug abuse is becoming a crisis now more than ever, but local experts say we can fight back. 

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, an epidemic of a different kind impacted millions of people and dominated the headlines. According to data from the CDC, 2020 was the worst year the US has ever seen when it comes to opioid overdoses.

That's why Saturday, Oct. 23 is the next to National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. It happens twice a year, and it's sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency. You can drop off unused, unwanted, or expired prescription medications, e-cigarettes, and Vape pens to safe disposal collection sites.

Too often unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. According to the drug use and Health, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives.

The survey also showed most of the drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director at Regence, explains why we all need to do our part.

"We are continuing to be in an opioid epidemic," said Dr. Oliveira. "The use of opioids continue to increase around the country, leading to overdoses and deaths and in fact, in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, opioid overdoses hit an all-time high in the United States."

Data from the National Drug Take Back Day back in April shows Americans turned in 420 tons of unwanted prescription drugs, and remember, not all medications can or should be flushed down the sink or the toilet when they're no longer needed. And only some prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs can be thrown in the trash.

The DEA offers collection sites nationwide, many of which are open year-round. You can find one near you by entering your zip code in the National Drug Take Back Day Collection Locator.

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