GOLDEN, Colo (CBS4) – About one-third of medications that are sold go unused. That means there are a lot of prescription drugs left in drawers and medicine cabinets. It’s creating a public health crisis in which every 15 minutes a child under 4 overdoses on drugs found at home. And prescription drug abuse has become the fastest growing drug problem in the country.
Drug Take Back programs are designed to deal with all of those leftovers. Law enforcement, public health and environmental professionals all stand united in support of these Take Back programs.
The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency started collecting old, out-of-date prescription drugs in 2010, and there’s been a Take Back event every six months. The next one is at the Community Safety Awareness Fair hosted by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
“We’ve collected several hundred pounds of prescriptions. So that may not sound like a lot until you start pouring little bottles out,” said Cary Johnson with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
As popular as the federal program has been, it’s changing. Next year the Drug Enforcement Agency is giving it up.
“The eventual regulation is going to have a protocol in place that on a daily basis you’ll be able to take these drugs to a location near you for them to be disposed of accordingly,” said David Schiller, Special Agent in Charge at the DEA.
The old advice was to flush them down the toilet, but that’s creating an environmental nightmare. The drugs are contaminating the ground water. When you turn in your narcotics or other prescription drugs they are taken to one of three facilities in the nation and they’re incinerated.
“The key to this is we don’t want people flushing those down the toilet, getting into our grand water. We don’t want those being stolen, especially narcotics and then finding a place on the street, so here’s a safe place to come and know that those prescriptions will be disposed of properly,” Johnson added.
The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office’s Community Safety Awareness Fair is Saturday, August 25th from 9am to 1pm at the Jefferson County Fair Grounds.
RELATED: More Reports By 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks
– Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith