Tennesseans Prepare for National Prescription Drug Take Back DayEvent offers safe and secure disposal of medications to prevent drug misuse
NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Spring cleaning season is here, and people across Tennessee are preparing to clean out their medicine cabinets and safely and securely dispose of medications that are expired or no longer needed during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Take Back Day is this Saturday, April 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. local time.
During the October 2021 Take Back Day, Tennesseans safely and securely disposed of nearly 17,000 pounds of medications at 112 sites across the state. In the decade that the Drug Enforcement Agency has organized Take Back Day, Tennesseans have safely and securely disposed of more than 330,000 pounds of medications.
The bi-annual medication collection event comes as authorities from the DEA to the TBI are warning of the danger of counterfeit prescription pills that are laced with fentanyl. The DEA estimates that four out of every 10 counterfeit pills bought on the street or over the internet or social media apps contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.
That’s having deadly consequences across the country, but the effects are most strongly felt among young adults and teens. Overdose deaths among American teens nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020, and researchers estimate the 2021 numbers will show another 20% increase in overdose deaths. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show fentanyl overdose deaths among teens increased by nearly 170% in just one year.
Safely disposing of unwanted pharmaceuticals at drop-off locations across the state helps ensure medicines are not misused or accidentally taken by someone they were unintended for.
“We have an incredible opportunity to prevent drug misuse by removing prescription medications from our homes, but we also have a real chance to save lives by talking to our young people about the dangers of prescription drug misuse. Pills purchased through a social media app or passed around at a party could have life-changing consequences, and parents can influence their child’s decisions just by having a conversation,” said Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.
“Take back events provide an opportunity to educate individuals and families on the unintended consequences of not properly disposing of unused prescription drugs,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “While we continue to see an increase in illicit drugs in our communities, we must remain diligent in preventing prescription drug misuse. While one pill can kill, one pill can also be the beginning of misuse, abuse, and addiction.”
“We want everyone to realize that disposing of prescription drugs by flushing them down the toilet can affect our drinking water,“ David Salyers, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “This program is an important and responsible way to address the problem, and we appreciate the partnership with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in this effort.”
In addition to collecting prescription medications, Tennessee’s Substance Abuse Prevention Coalitions are holding informational events to share information about overdose reversal, strategies for parents, and details on connecting to addiction treatment. You can connect with the coalition that serves your area at this link.