Getting rid of unwanted prescription drugs from our shelves is one way that we can prevent drug abuse, theft, and environmental hazards. On September 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Youth & Families Committee of Promise Partners, Pottawattamie County Sherriff’s Office, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public an opportunity to rid their homes of expired or unused prescription drugs in a way that is safe, convenient, and responsible. Community members are encouraged to bring pills and prescription medication for disposal to the Walgreens in Council Bluffs—located at 535 E. Broadway. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. Over 480 pounds were surrendered in Pottawattamie County alone. When those results are combined with what was collected in its seven previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 3.4 million pounds—more than 1,700 tons—of pills.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that remain in home cabinets are often misused or abused. Rates of prescription drug abuse are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, the public is now being 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.
DEA is in the process of approving new regulations that implement the Safe and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” (that is, a patient or their family member or pet owner) of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances.