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LOS ANGELES NEWS

DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Event Yields Record-Setting Results

MAY 06 (LOS ANGELES) – The 11th DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back event garnered an overwhelming response as citizens turned in a record-setting amount of prescription drugs.  Last weekend the DEA and over 4,200 of its state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners collected 893,498 pounds of unwanted medicines—about 447 tons—at almost 5,400 sites spread through all 50 states, beating its previous high of 390 tons in the spring of 2014 by 57 tons, or more than 114,000 pounds.  The top five states with the largest collections, in order, were Texas (almost 40 tons); California (32 tons); Wisconsin (31 tons); Illinois (24 tons); and Massachusetts (24 tons). 

The DEA Los Angeles Field Division, which encompasses seven counties in the greater Los Angeles area, the States of Nevada and Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), took in 33,801 pounds of medication as part of the effort.  In the Los Angeles area, local law enforcement agencies from Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties collected 27,108 pounds.  In Nevada, agents and local law enforcement officers collected 3,776 pounds of prescription medications.  In Hawaii, Guam, and the CMNI, agents and local law enforcement officers collected 2,917 pounds of medications at locations throughout the islands. 

The majority of prescription drug abusers report in surveys that they get their drugs from friends and family.  Americans understand that cleaning out old prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, and bedside tables reduces accidents, thefts and the misuse and abuse of these medicines, including the opioid painkillers that accounted for 20,808 drug overdoses—78 a day—in 2014 (the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  Eight out of 10 new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers and moved to heroin when they could no longer obtain or afford those painkillers.

“These results show that more Americans than ever are taking the important step of cleaning out their medicine cabinets and making homes safe from potential prescription drug abuse or theft,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.  “Unwanted, expired or unused prescription medications are often an unintended catalyst for addiction.  Take-Back events like these raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and offer the public a safe and anonymous way to help prevent substance abuse.”

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