This Saturday is Drug Enforcement Administration's "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day." Here in Utah, the DEA is adding collection boxes to dispose of drugs that contribute to the state’s opioid problem.
Last October, when the last drug take back program last occurred in Utah, the DEA collected 3,700 pounds of prescription medications. But based on the amount of drugs Utahns consume, Brian Besser says that’s not enough.
"We should be easily collecting quadruple that amount."
Besser is the DEA’s District Agent in Charge for Utah. He says every week 6-10 Utahns die from opioid overdose deaths. The state ranks 4th in drug-related deaths in the country.
Besser is confident these drug take back programs get unused or expired drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets where they could be taken by family members.
"Our prescription opioids have the same addictive properties as heroin. A parent wouldn’t have a baggy of heroin sitting in their medicine cabinet unlocked," he says.
The DEA added drug collection boxes around the state this year. They also recently put out a website to help people find the drop off box closest to them.
"If you’re running out to the grocery store, you’re running to the post office, maybe you have to run an errand, chances are you’re going to be driving by one of these drop box places," Besser says.
Prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals can be dropped off anonymously at all locations. After that they’re collected and incinerated, a method that’s safer and more environmentally friendly than flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away.
While the national drug take back event happens once a year, collection sites throughout Utah operate year round.