The Chattanooga Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity on April 28, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.
The public can taek medications for disposal to the District Connection Office at 5896 Brainerd Road next to Qdoba Mexican Grill in the Brainerd Village Shopping Center. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Residents of Bradley and surrounding counties are encouraged to look through their medicine cabinets and bring any prescription drugs they do not need to the Criminal Investigations office on the south side of the Judicial Center during the week of April 23-28 for disposal.
Collection times are 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday, April 23 - 27, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. The Sheriff’s Office will not accept hypodermic needles or radioactive drugs.
The 2011 week-long event during October saw a record of approximately 180 pounds of prescription medications being brought to the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office. The Drug Take Back event gives residents an opportunity to clean out their medicine cabinets of accumulated prescriptions which they no longer need, are expired, or can no longer take.
“The response far exceeded our expectations,” said Sheriff Jim Ruth, who noted the October Drug Take Back event was the second one last year. The first event scheduled in late April was delayed for several weeks after six tornadoes ravaged parts of the county on April 27, 2011.
The sheriff said this will be an excellent opportunity for those who missed last year’s events or have since accumulated bottles of medicine they want to get rid of to be a part of protecting the environment.
Sheriff Ruth expressed appreciation to Chattanooga's Drug Enforcement Agency and to the GRAAB Coalition (Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors) for partnering with the Sheriff’s Office as sponsors. Nationally, the Drug Enforcement Administration is prime sponsor and coordinator of the project.
The GRAAB Coalition is a big part of the program, utilizing the resources of grant funds for posters and volunteers to spread word of the collection effort throughout the community. A number of businesses and pharmacies also support this event by allowing posters to be placed in their stores, which is very helpful in getting the information to the public.
Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds—188.5 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners. In its three previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds—nearly 500 tons—of pills.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. 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, a process that can take as long as 24 months. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the Chattanooga Police Department and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.