Thursday, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens partnered with law enforcement to encourage Georgians to participate in the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day being held nationwide this Saturday, April 27, 2013.
The Drug Take-Back Day gives the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs. Local law enforcement agencies in thousands of American communities partnered with the DEA to take in over 2 million pounds—almost 1,018 tons—of expired prescription drugs since September 2010.
Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Olens was joined by Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Harry S. Sommers, Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency Director Rick Allen, and police chiefs from Cobb County participating in the Drug Take-Back Day at a press conference at the Marietta Police Department. He emphasized the importance of safe disposal of unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs.
“I am proud to partner with the DEA and local law enforcement to urge Georgians to clean out their medicine cabinets and discard old and unwanted prescription drugs,” said Attorney General Olens. “Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is wreaking havoc in communities across Georgia, and many abusers obtain or steal drugs from family and friends. The DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will help reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse by removing excess drugs that have the potential to end up in the wrong hands.”
Special Agent in Charge Sommers said, “DEA is committed to making our communities safer by raising public awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. DEA's sixth Prescription Drug Take-Back event will allow Americans to properly and safely dispose of unwanted prescription medication which could otherwise be abused for non-medical purposes. This event is free and anonymous, no questions asked and will be held on April 27, 2013, between the hours of 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. In order to carry out this mission, DEA will be working hand-in-hand with its law enforcement and community partners, all in an effort to rid our communities of prescription drug abuse.”
Director Allen said, “These drug take back programs have become a very effective tool in the tool box to help us prevent drugs from being available to anyone who is curious to find out what taking a drug would do to them.”
The Drug Take-Back Day couldn't come at a more critical time. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner's Office, in 2011 alone, 512 deaths were attributed to prescription drug abuse in Georgia. This statistic largely excludes Metro Atlanta counties, so that figure is actually higher.
In 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs. That same survey revealed more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers obtained them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.
In addition to participating in national efforts, such as the DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Georgia is also tackling the increase of prescription drug abuse by cracking down on illicit pill mills. Just last month, the Georgia General Assembly passed H.B. 178, a bill authored by the Attorney General's Office, that will combat the surge of pill mills in communities across Georgia by regulating pain clinics.
Saturday marks the sixth Drug Take-Back Day. During the last event, held in September 2012, sites registered in Georgia collected 8,233 pounds of prescription drugs. Georgians have turned over more than 25,000 pounds of prescription drugs at Drug Take-Back Days since 2010.
Citizens can locate the nearest collection site by visiting the DEA website or calling 800-882-9539.
What the Police Chiefs are Saying:
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn
“Every day, every shift, police officers see the enormous amount of human misery caused by drug abuse. We see the broken lives, destroyed families, trashed careers and all the associated violence; and it is no different when it is caused by drugs that are legally produced than those that are produced by illegal means.”
“Abuse of drugs that are legally produced for legitimate medical purposes are now rivaling the devastation caused by illicit drugs like methamphetamine, crack cocaine, or heroin.”
“The DEA-sponsored Drug Take-Back Initiative is designed to provide the community a way to help law enforcement fight trafficking and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs by collecting unused, expired, or left over drugs for legal disposal so they do not fall into the wrong hands or make their way into the community water supply.”
Smyrna Police Chief David Lee
“The Smyrna Police Department supports the DEA's program for the Drug Take Back Initiative. We face many issues in law enforcement today with the illegal drug market, but the issue is just as great with drugs that are manufactured legally but are sold and used illegally.”
“Sometimes, drugs that are prescribed, but are not completely used, are found by young children who mistake the drugs for candy. By ensuring that these medications are safely disposed of, the hope is that they do not make it into the hands of the illegal drug market or into the hands of innocent young children.”
Acworth Police Chief Wayne Dennard
“The Acworth Police Department is proud to be partnering with the DEA and other agencies in our community for the National Take Back Initiative this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Our drop off will be manned in the front lot of the police department, and those wishing to participate on Saturday will receive drive up service and never exit their vehicle.
“The Acworth Police Department is designated as a full time collection site in which residents can drop off expired prescription medication anytime during the year. We encourage residents to take advantage of this 24 hour 7 day service.”
Kennesaw Police Chief William Westenberger
“The Kennesaw Police Department considers prescription abuse to be one of the top threats to our community. We have taken aggressive action on this threat through targeting of Pill Mills, increased drug enforcement and programs such as the National Take Back Day Initiative. The National Drug Take Back Day Initiative is a key component of our goal of reducing the availability of prescription drugs for illegal use.”