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Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the Numbers

DEA Collects Record-Setting Amount Of Meds At Latest National R/X Take-Back Day

San Diego County CA—Americans turned in more unused prescription drugs at the most recent DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day than on any of the previous ten events since it began in 2010, demonstrating their understanding of the value of this service.

Last weekend the DEA and over 4,200 of its state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners collected 893,498 pounds of unwanted medicines—about 447 tons—at almost 5,400 sites spread through all 50 states, beating its previous high of 390 tons in the spring of 2014 by 57 tons, or more than 114,000 pounds. The top five states with the largest collections, in order, were Texas (almost 40 tons); California (32 tons); Wisconsin (31 tons); Illinois (24 tons); and Massachusetts (24 tons).

The DEA and its partners took back prescription drugs at 43 locations in San Diego County and three locations in Imperial County.

Over the course of four hours, 10,841.9 pounds or 5.4 tons of drugs were turned into the locations in both counties.

“We are pleased to see that Southern Californians are motivated and continue to make their homes safer for our youth,” says DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman.  “Citizens can now take advantage of the permanent drop off boxes at over 35 locations in San Diego County in the stations of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the San Diego Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Carlsbad Police Department and the Chula Vista Police Department.  We thank all our law enforcement partners in this effort.”

Other participants in this initiative include the San Diego County Sheriff’s, La Mesa Police Department, El Cajon Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, Sycuan Tribal Police Department, Carlsbad Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, Coronado Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Rx Drug Abuse Task Force, SDSU Police Department, Veterans Administration Police, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, US Attorney’s Office, SD County Probation, US Probation, California Department of Justice, Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, HIDTA, California Border Alliance Group, San Diego Police Department, United States Marine Corps, US Navy, San Diego Community College Police Department, San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts, SD County Health & Human Services, Californians for Drug Free Youth, and San Diego County Prevention Coalitions, Calexico Police Department, Imperial Police Department, El Centro Police Department, Brawley Police Department, Calipatria Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and Imperial County Office of Education.

The majority of prescription drug abusers report in surveys that they get their drugs from friends and family. Americans understand that cleaning out old prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, and bedside tables reduces accidents, thefts, and the misuse and abuse of these medicines, including the opioid painkillers that accounted for 20,808 drug overdoses—78 a day—in 2014 (the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Eight out of 10 new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers and moved to heroin when they could no longer obtain or afford those painkillers.

“These results show that more Americans than ever are taking the important step of cleaning out their medicine cabinets and making homes safe from potential prescription drug abuse or theft,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “Unwanted, expired or unused prescription medications are often an unintended catalyst for addiction. Take-Back events like these raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and offer the public a safe and anonymous way to help prevent substance abuse.”