More than seven million Americans abused prescription drugs in 2009, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey in Drug Use and Health—and many of these are kids who nick drugs from the family bathroom. To help Americans get rid of unused medications without fear, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is holding its fourth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day at locations nationwide on April 28 from 10 am-2 pm. The DEA and its local law-enforcement partners will staff sites where people drop off their drugs, no questions asked. “The idea is to get people to get this stuff out of their medicine cabinets without fear or concern of anyone checking or questioning,” says Jeffrey Scott, a DEA special agent who has worked in the field all over the country, most recently in Arizona, and has staffed drug take-back sites. “You bring in your medications, they’re given to state or local police departments, and they maintain them until the DEA collects them for destruction,” he tellsThe Fix.
The DEA claims an “overwhelming” response to its first three take-back events, having collected almost half a million tons of pills from across the country. The drugs are taken to incineration sites for destruction. Scott says that since “it’s a blind drop”—meaning there are no questions asked about the drugs brought in—the DEA conducts no sorting process of the drugs, so it’s impossible to know which drugs are most commonly surrendered. Over 5,300 sites will be staffed by more than 4,000 of the DEA’s state and local partners. Last September’s event encouraged participation by long-term care facilities and Indian nations, in addition to the general public. To find your local drop-off point, visit the Office of Diversion Control’s site here and search by Zip code or city.