Safely get rid of old medications on Drug Take Back Day

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Drug overdose is the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia.

Many times addiction begins with someone taking drugs prescribed for a family member or friend. One way to help protect our loved ones is to properly dispose of medications when we’re done with them.

Drug Take Back Day, a biannual event sponsored by the DEA, takes place Saturday in communities across Hampton Roads and across the nation. It’s a quick, anonymous way to safely dispose of medications.

The DEA has been sponsoring the event for more than a decade, but now as America fights the opioid crisis, agents say it’s more important than ever to get rid of those old drugs, and to do it the right way.

“What we find is, sometimes, young people will look to abuse or misuse old prescription drugs that are in people’s medicine cabinets, and sometimes they’ll go out ad try to sell it as well,” said Jarod Forget, DEA special agent in charge of the Washington D.C. division.

The DEA finds that homeowners often don’t realize their drugs are being stolen, or that they’re tempting others.

“You have to think about the risk this poses to children in the home as well,” said Kemi Olatunji, senior director of pharmacy at Riverside Health Systems.

Olatunji warned that just one tiny pill could kill a little one.

She added that throwing old pills in the trash or flushing them doesn’t eliminate all risk.

“So when you put things in the trash,” she said, “the way the trash is processed could mean that it ends up in the water system and end up back into our homes through our taps.”

“Just last year at DEA, we obtained over 27,000 prescription pills that people dropped off freely,” Forget said.

The event happens twice a year in communities across Hampton Roads and the country.
Riverside is partnering with the DEA at five locations.

“We made it very easy many of these are drive thru events you don’t have to get out of your vehicle you can just drive by,” Olatunji said.

No questions asked and no charge.

To find a Drug Take Back Day location near you, click here. If you cannot make it to any of the locations this weekend, there are places you can drop off old medications year round. Click here to find one near you.

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