Over the course of about four hours Saturday, about 50 citizens came to the Enumclaw police station to dispose of their excess prescription drugs in the first event of this sort that was a collaboration between the Enumclaw police department at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The 'Take Back' event was intended to help curb prescription drug abuse and theft by ridding homes of potentially dangerous drugs that could fall into the wrong hands.
Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at more than 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners, according to an agency press release. In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills.
Officials who oversaw the event in Enumclaw offered an initial estimate, that about 50 pounds of material was collected from the community. It was a pretty good start and set a good baseline for future events like this. "I'd say it was a successful event," said Heather Hogan, who leads the Foothills Healthy Community Coalition (FHCC) that introduced the event to Enumclaw.
According to the DEA, medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like Enumclaw and Buckley police and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.
If you missed this event, note that the Buckley Police station at 132 S Cedar St. in Buckley has a permanent installation for proper drug disposal, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.