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Drop Off Those Old Pills on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Federal and state law enforcement agencies are offering area residents the chance this weekend to get rid of pills, cough syrup and other unwanted medications that have been piling up in medicine cabinets. The ninth “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day” is one of the few days of the year where citizens can drop off expired or unused prescription medications with no questions asked. Louisville DEA Group Supervisor, Martin Redd said 6.5 million Americans used prescription drugs in 2013. “That’s still more than double the number of those using heroin, cocaine and hallucinogens combined,” Redd said. Prescription drug abuse has plagued the region for years. Kentucky has the third highest drug mortality rate in the country with 23.6 per 100,000 people, according to the 2013 Drug Abuse Data report by Trust for America’s Health. Indiana has the 17th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States at 14.4 per 100,000 people, a number that’s quadrupled since 1999. Law enforcement is looking to combat pill abuse by offering a safe outlet to discard the drugs. “When you bring the drugs and drop them in there isn’t anybody asking questions,” said Indiana State Police Sergeant Jerry Goodin. “You just dump them in the garbage can and we destroy them.” Other drug disposal methods, such as flushing pills down the toilet, can affect the environment. “Those drugs, when people flush them down the toilet, a lot of the times go into the septic or sewer systems and end up in the water waste, creeks, ponds, lakes and rivers,” Goodin said. “Obviously that poses a problem.” Van Ingram, director of the Kentucky office of drug control policy, said that between 65 and 75 percent of first time adolescent drug users get prescription drugs from a friend or relative with or without their permission. “So every time we take back drugs, every time we get drugs out of the medicine cabinet and safely disposed of we’ve reduced the risk,” Ingram said. “Is that evidence-based? No, but in my opinion it’s a victory anytime we can reduce that risk.” At the first national take-back day in 2010, Indiana collected 2.4 tons of medications, according to Brian Olehy, Indiana State Police First Sergeant. Meanwhile, Kentucky collected about 1.8 tons, the DEA noted. Flash forward four years to the last take-back, earlier this year in April. Indiana collected 12 tons of medications with Kentucky collecting about 5.6 tons You can locate a drug collection site near you on the DEA's website.