SAN DIEGO — San Diego County will partner with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies Saturday to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
The DEA began the prescription drug take back program in 2010 and sponsors the collections every April and October. Drug collection sites across the country collected more than 474 tons of prescription drugs during the most recent take back day in April, according to the DEA. In San Diego, residents turned in nearly 22,000 pounds of prescription drugs during both take back events in 2017.
“National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a day for every American, in every community across the country, to come together and do his or her part to fight the opioid crisis — simply by disposing of unwanted prescription medications from their medicine cabinets,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “This event brings us together with local, state and federal partners to fight the abuse of prescription drugs that is fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic.”
Turning in unwanted, expired and unused pills is safer than throwing them away or flushing them down a toilet, according to the DEA, because residents can ensure that the pills will be properly disposed of and won’t have any adverse effect on the environment or public health. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health also found that 62 percent of teenagers who have taken prescription drugs recreationally found them in the medicine cabinets in their homes.
“I encourage all Californians to do their part to keep their families and communities safe by participating in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day,” said State Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel. “This is a small, but vital step that will help reduce the chances of prescription medications being misused.”
A county report released Friday found that 273 San Diego residents died in 2017 due to prescription drug overdoses, an increase of 8 percent over 2016’s 253 deaths. The 273 deaths is a new county record for prescription drug deaths in one year, according to the San Diego County Prescription Drug Task Force.
“Prescription drug abuse is an equal opportunity killer and can affect anyone, crossing socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender and age,” County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar said regarding the county drug report. “The fact is, unintentional drug-related deaths continue to rise.”
Residents can dispose of their unwanted and expired prescription drugs at 44 sites around the county from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The nearest collection site can be found by visiting takebackday.dea.gov. Residents can also receive prescription drug addiction treatment by calling the county’s access and crisis hotline at (88) 724-7240.