National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Kicks Off on October 27

misuse of prescription drugs

In just two days, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) kicks off its 16th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to get unused prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets to collection sites. On Saturday, October 27 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Rhode Islanders can dispose of their expired, unused, and unwanted prescription medications at over a dozen sites throughout the Ocean State Rhode Island, operated by the Rhode Island State Police and the lobbies of local Police Departments, and other community partners, including local CVS and Walgreens. The disposal service is free, no questions asked.

This annual initiative puts the spotlight on a public health issue, the misuse of pharmaceuticals.  pharmaceuticals.  According to DEA, the rates of prescription drug abuse in the nation are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. DEA launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that flushing these drugs down the toilet or throwing them in the trash posed potential safety and health hazards.

Misuse of Controlled-Prescriptions a Common Occurrence

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million Americans misused controlled prescriptions and often obtained them from family and friends. In-home medicine cabinets are often the source of these diverted prescriptions, making it critical for patients to properly dispose of unused prescriptions in a timely manner to prevent prescription misuse.

“Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “These events are only made possible through the dedicated work and commitment of our local, state, and federal partners, and DEA thanks each and every one of them for their efforts on behalf of the American people.”

After collecting a total of more than 9.9 million pounds (nearly 5,000 tons) of expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications during 15 previous events over the past eight years, the DEA expects to reach a total of 10 million pounds collected following the upcoming fall 2018 Take back event.

Finding the Nearest Collection Site

The public can find a nearby collection site at or by calling 800-882-9539. (DEA cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps.)

“We know that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet,” said Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “If we reduce the availability of those unused or expired medications through proper disposal, the fewer drugs there are to be misused, and fewer people will be at risk for abuse, addiction, overdose, and even death.”

Woonsocket-based CVS Health, the largest pharmacy chain in the nation, joins local Rhode Island police departments, calling on Rhode Islanders to clean out their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of unused prescription medications. CVS Health has installed safe medication disposal units in more than 750 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide (and throughout the state) and has donated more than 900 additional units to community locations such as police departments.

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