Those interested in disposing of their unused or unwanted prescription drugs are encouraged to bring them to the Bradley County Judicial Center at 2290 Blythe Ave. on Saturday, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
This action comes on the heels of an increased initiative by the White House to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic.
“People are abusing these drugs, because they think they are safe. A doctor gave them out so they must be all right,” said Joyce Vanderpool, program coordinator for the GRAAB Coalition.
The truth is abusing prescription drugs can be incredibly dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abusing pharmaceuticals is now the No. 1 cause of death in 17 states for young people.
“Now, we don’t want to discourage people from taking their medications if they have been prescribed by a doctor and are being taken correctly,” Vanderpool said.
In 2010 the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an event called the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
The event allowed people to safely and anonymously dispose of prescription drugs without the usual paperwork or counting process.
The 2010 effort collected 121 tons of medications, and many are hoping for similar results at this year’s event.
Reports from the DEA state that more than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs.
Each day, approximately 2,500 teens abuse prescription drugs to get high according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
“These medications are being stolen right from Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa,” said Vanderpool. “We are really encouraging people to keep their prescriptions locked up tight during all times even if they do not have kids around.”
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day also helps combat the improper disposal of medications.
Many people continue to flush medications down toilets and recent studies by the EPA have shown alarming pollutant elevations in water supplies as a result medications being flushed.
Vanderpool voiced her hope the take back days might become more commonplace and that someday the ability to remove potentially dangerous drugs from the nation’s medicine cabinets would be much easier.
“This is a huge problem. For the president to come out and call it an epidemic should make people take a look at the issue and realize how dangerous and widespread it has become,” she said.