By Dillon Thomas
DENVER (CBS4) – In an effort to prevent drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration hosted the bi-annual “Drug Takeback” event throughout the nation, including nearly 100 stations in Colorado.
The takeback program gives residents the opportunity to turn over leftover, or excess, prescription medications they no longer need to law enforcement. The medications are then taken to the DEA’s headquarters, where they are prepared to be destroyed.
DEA spokesman Randy Ladd told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the opioid crisis in the United States impacts 6.2 million people every day, many of which are Coloradans.
“Colorado is not exempt from this opioid epidemic we are facing across this country,” Ladd said.
Ladd said many drug abusers, including those addicted to heroin, started with prescription medications.
“A lot of the opioid abuse comes from the households,” Ladd said. “High school kids have become addicted to heroin, after starting out with the pills.”
Ladd said leftover pills are often easily obtained, or purchased, by abusers.
“They over-use them, they start to abuse them. And once they run out, they go seeking them out with family and friends,” Ladd said.
Thanks to the takeback event, thousands of pounds of medications were taken off the streets. With more than 50 Colorado agencies participating, many of the leftover medications were brought to the DEA’s Denver headquarters.
There, they were weighed, boxed, and loaded in to trucks. The trucks will later take them out of state to be destroyed properly.
Last April, in Colorado, more than 16,000 pounds of pills were collected.
“Across the country, it was 912,000 pounds,” Ladd said.
By properly taking the drugs, Ladd hoped the DEA would prevent others from falling on to the path to addiction.
While the DEA only hosts the event twice a year, there are some locations that are open year-round. For information on where you can legally release your excess drugs, visit DEATakeback.com
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.