Attorney General Lori Swanson promotes National Prescription Takeback Day in Richfield
Richfield Police Department will participate for the second time in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s prescription takeback day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Walgreens, 12 W. 66th St. Swanson and officials encouraged residents to participate in this event by disposing of their unwanted prescription medication.
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Initiative addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused 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. The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. Last year during the Oct. 28 National Prescription Takeback day, in Minnesota alone, more than 26,000 pounds of unused and unwanted prescriptions were collected from 91 participating collection sites.
Swanson thanked Richfield police officers and first responders for their participation in this event.
“Every unused bottle of pills that can be gotten out of a medicine cabinet through takeback day is a bottle that can’t be used to poison people either accidentally or through diversion,”
Swanson said. “The ravages of the opioid epidemic are affecting people all over the state of Minnesota and all walks of life. Opioid-involved deaths have more than doubled in the last 10 years.”
Swanson said in 2016 alone, 50 percent of opioid overdoses related to prescription drugs came for free from friends or family members, sometimes inadvertently.
“Opioid abuse is a gateway to heroin,” Swanson said. “So, people start out by taking prescription pain killers and then they switch over to heroin, which is especially dangerous since nowadays heroin is being laced with things like fentanyl.”
Henthorne said that many times, residents have leftover prescription medication in their homes and do not know how to dispose of it safely.
“The Richfield Police Department wants to collaborate with the community by giving residents that opportunity to get rid of any unused prescription medication,” Henthorne said. “Without events like drug takeback day, a portion of these unused medications could find their way to the streets.”
Swanson said nearly 12,000 kids are poisoned every year from accidentally ingesting prescription drugs.
“Sixty percent of those [children] are under the age of [5 years old],” Swanson said. “So getting rid of unwanted medication out of the medicine cabinet not only stops diversion but can also help save lives. It stops poisoning and overdoses.”
Swanson said there has been growth in Minnesotans stepping forward by using takeback day as an opportunity to get drugs off their hands.
“In 2016 there were just 21 collection sites,” Swanson said. “There [will be] over 90 collection sites all over the state on Saturday, and we’ve also seen a real growth in the number of drugs that have been given back on takeback day. Over 44,000 pounds of medicine was given back last year. That’s a 300 percent increase from just the year before.”
In Richfield’s first participation, officers collected more than 200 pounds of unwanted medication.
Henthorne said the department strongly encourages Richfield residents to look through their medications for any expired or unused medication and bring it in to drug takeback day.
“Once you turn them in to the Richfield Police Department, you will not have to worry about them being misused or abused.”
Swanson said National Prescription Takeback Day is a good opportunity for Minnesotans statewide to dispose of old, unwanted medicine for free.
“It’s safe to get rid of it this way,” Swanson said. “It’s better for the environment than flushing it down the drain. It’s cheap, and it’s really easy.
The event does not require any sort of registration or information. No questions are asked of residents who bring drugs to dispose of and after all of the medication is collected, the total amount is weighed for record keeping and incinerated by trained DEA officers.
To find a site to dispose of medicine on National Prescription Takeback Day April 28, visit doseofreality.mn.gov. There is an interactive map available to users to find the closest disposal site across the state.