National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 24
Nationwide awareness event provides info, locations to safely discard unused medications
SPEARFISH, SD – You may not know it, but your medicine cabinet may pose a public safety issue: Unused or expired prescription medications can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse if they fall into the wrong hands.
To avoid these risks, everyone is invited to take part in this year’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Oct. 24. The effort is coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), state and local law enforcement agencies, and community partners to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from homes.
The Spearfish Police Department serves as a collection site, featuring a drop box at 225 W. Illinois St. The drop box is accessible 24 hours a day, every day, for people to anonymously drop off expired or unused prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, pet medicines, and vitamin supplements for destruction (no syringes/sharps). All collected medications will be disposed of by law enforcement in accordance with state guidelines and the DEA.
“This one-day effort promotes awareness that these drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety,” said Spearfish Police Chief Curt Jacobs. “It is intended to bring national focus to the issue of rising pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse.”
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
In addition to abuse, unused or expired drugs are dangerous for a number of reasons, Jacobs said. The medication can be scavenged or sold illegally; children and animals could be poisoned if they find and swallow drugs; and they can be toxic to the environment. Many people believe that flushing medicines down the toilet is a safe way to dispose of them, but officials discourage that practice – unless medications specifically indicate that they can be flushed – because of the public health implication of drugs entering the ecosystem and potential negative effects on the water supply.
“Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment,” Jacobs said.
During the Oct. 18, 2019, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, there were nearly 5,000 law enforcement partners participating, with 6,174 collection sites around the county. In all, 882,919 pounds – 441.5 tons! – of prescription and unwanted drugs were collected during last year’s event.
Anyone may safely and anonymously drop off unused/unwanted medications at the drop box in Spearfish, and for a list of additional collection sites and more information about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov.