SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – It’s a fight against not only Utah’s opioid crisis but the entire country’s. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to hopefully get a handle on the problem.
The national drug take back day happens several times throughout the year to encourage people to properly dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications.
Multiple police agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and organizations partner with the DEA to organize drop-off locations across the country.
On Saturday, over 50 locations in Utah collected un-needed prescriptions.
The Salt Lake City Police Department is one of the many participants taking collections at their public safety building, and their Pioneer precinct says people frequently store these medications in medicine cabinets and can fall into the hands of children.
The locations are set up to collect the drugs with no questions asked: “We don’t take any names or anyone dropping them off, we turn them into the DEA where they are properly disposed of,” says Sgt. Doug Teerlink of the Salt Lake City Police department.
According to the DEA, opioid misuse remains at epidemic levels in the United States. A report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed a majority of people who misused a prescription medication obtained the medicine from a family member or friend.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States, approximately 107,622 people died as a result of drug poisoning in 2021. This means that someone in the United States is dying of a drug poisoning every five minutes.
According to the Attorney General’s Office Utah Opioid Task Force, approximately 100,000 Utahns died of a drug related overdose in 2021.
That’s about 277 people per day.
Utah was once fourth in the nation for drug overdose deaths; the state now ranks 38th in the nation.
With Take Back Day being a collective effort across the state, ABC4 spoke with Brittany Glas, a spokeswoman for MountainStar Healthcare, who stated their hospitals alone were able to collect more than 740 pounds of unused or expired opioids and other medications. “We exceeded last year’s record by over 200 pounds” says Glas.
The DEA says they are committed to making communities safer and healthier nationwide during April’s Take Back Day — over 700,000 pounds of unwanted, expired drugs were collected nationwide.
For those wanting to still get rid of prescription medicine that is no longer wanted or needed, there are 4,000 local drop off sites nationwide.