Drug take-back day set for later this month
BURLINGTON — Gov. Peter Shumlin has joined with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Attorney Eric Miller, and Vermont Sheriffs’ Association President Roger Marcoux to announce a drug take-back day in Vermont on Saturday, Sept. 26,from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vermont’s drug take-back day is part of a nationwide effort being led by the DEA to ensure the safe disposal of unwanted, unneeded or expired prescription drugs.
Collection sites in Vermont can be found by going to www.dea.gov or calling 1-800-882-9539. There are currently hundreds of take-back sites on the DEA website in Vermont and surrounding areas in New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts, and more sites will be added before Sept. 26.
“Prescription drugs that fall into the wrong hands, on purpose or by accident, can be incredibly dangerous,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Diversion of prescription painkillers is especially dangerous and helps to fuel the opiate and heroin crisis we’re working to combat. As we continue to work to address the issue of addiction in our state, Vermonters can help by checking their medicine cabinets and safely disposing of any unneeded drugs on Sept. 26.”
“Unless they are disposed of properly, unused prescription drugs pose a triple threat to Vermonters’ safety,” said U.S. Attorney Eric Miller. “Diverted drugs contribute to Vermont’s opiate epidemic. Accidentally misused drugs are dangerous to patients and their family members. And unnecessarily retained drugs can be a catalyst for property crime and violent crime. Vermonters can help address all of these risks by taking advantage of drug take-back day.”
The drug take-back day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue, as many prescription medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Four percent of Vermonters age 12 and older misused a prescription pain reliever in 2012, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Since 2010, 188 accidental deaths have been attributed to prescription opioids.
“Prescription drugs are Vermont’s most dangerous leftovers,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “Nearly 70 percent of people age 12 and older who abused prescription painkillers got them from friends or relatives, often straight out of the medicine cabinet. To prevent misuse, we want everyone to know how to safely use, store and dispose of unused or expired medicine.”
Beyond abuse of unused prescription drugs, disposal is a challenge as well, with many Vermonters unsure of how to safely dispose of their prescriptions. Flushing unused medications down the toilet or sink is not a safe way to dispose of prescriptions and can be hazardous to the environment, specifically lakes, rivers and streams. The Vermont Department of Health has information on the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription drugs on their website at www.healthvermont.gov.
In the previous take-back days nationwide, 4,823,251 pounds, or 2,411 tons, of drugs were collected.