RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam yesterday urged Virginians to properly dispose of their unused, unwanted, or expired prescription medications this Saturday during the 18th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. One of the easiest ways to help fight prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths is to discard any prescription drugs that have expired or are no longer in use. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year.

“As we continue to combat the opioid epidemic, an important piece is the proper disposal of unwanted prescription drugs,” said Governor Northam. “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides Virginians a way to responsibly get rid of unneeded or expired prescription medications, and raises awareness of how important it is to dispose of these drugs to keep them away from children and out of the hands of people who might abuse them.”

Unused or expired prescription medications can lead to potential accidental poisoning, misuse, and overdoses. Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment by keeping these substances out of rivers, lakes, and public water supplies.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Prescription drugs are intended only for the person to whom they are prescribed, and when those medications are misplaced, forgotten about, or unaccounted for, they can become a danger to others.

Prescription opioid painkillers, when abused, have similar effects to those of heroin and other illicit opioids, and an estimated 80 percent of people using heroin began by misusing prescription opioids.

During the 17th National Take Back Day in April 2019, there were 937,433 pounds of prescription drugs collected nationwide at 6,258 collection sites.

Visit takebackday.dea.gov for more information and to find your nearest collection site.

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