By Jason KUROSU
Sept. 29 marks the latest Drug Take Back Day, a national event aimed at removing unwanted and/or expired prescription drugs from homes. The first take back day was held in September 2010 and has since become a bi-annual event which has seen over 1.5 million pounds of prescription drugs collected, with the most recent April 2012 event taking in a record number of disposed medication.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., collection sites across the country will accept leftover prescription and over-the-counter drugs. There will be 90 collection sites within the Los Angeles area alone, each manned by law enforcement. The collections will be anonymous and the drugs will be taken to a secure location afterwards and destroyed in an incinerator.
Drug Take Back Day offers an alternative method to dispose of over-the-counter drugs, other than the drop boxes available year round at police and sheriff’s stations. According to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, those who are prescribed medication may not transfer that controlled substance to any other person, including the pharmacy from which they obtained the drugs. Only law enforcement can take possession of those substances.
Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition Vice President Susan Dubin termed the event “a safe, eco-friendly and anonymous way to dispose of unwanted medications.”
Describing a common scenario for patients given prescription medication, Dubin said, “Many people accumulate stuff from their doctor or dentist and don’t know what to do with them. They consider flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away, both of which are harmful to the environment.”
Dubin hopes events such like Drug Take Back Day will not only aid in reducing the amount of prescription drugs readily available in medicine cabinets across the country, but will also encourage awareness to rising rates of prescription drug abuse.
“This hopefully brings heightened awareness to everyone.”
DEA spokeswoman Special Agent Sarah Pullen offered some encouraging statistics, noting that prescription drug abuse in the general population is declining “for the first time in well over 10 years. Rates have declined 12% between 2011 and 2012.”
However, Pullen said that those rates are unchanged amongst young people.
Local drop off points include CVS Pharmacy, 2037 Verdugo Blvd. Montrose and CVS Pharmacy, 6588 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga; Rite-Aid Pharmacy, 2647 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta and Rite-Aid Pharmacy, 647 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada.
The DEA’s website has a complete list of local drop off sites.