Getting rid of prescription medications the proper way is a good start to preventing the abuse of those drugs.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 24 and sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Idaho Office of Drug Policy allows patients to drop off prescription drugs. There will be 38 sites across Idaho that will be accepting prescription drug between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
"We can only do what we can do to take as many drugs off the street as possible, so we want to start here, but people also need to be aware that finding drugs on the streets, sharing drugs is in this day and age can be a fatal mistake," said Rafael Gonzalez, acting United States Attorney.
The event began 20 years ago to help people easily and safely dispose of medications that are highly susceptible to misuse, abuse and theft, according to a news release. In 2019, nearly 10 million Americans misused prescription drugs, including 60,000 Idahoans under 12 years old, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The Idaho Office of Drug Policy reports substance misuse has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South Central Public Health District is the organizer of the event for the Magic Valley and they're working with multiple law enforcement agencies to make it happen.
While there are yearly round drop off locations, the service is free and no questions will be asked. Drugs can be disposed of in their original containers or directly into a disposal box.
“Everybody wants to avoid the feeling of being somebody who's been holding onto drugs, even if they are legal drugs, there might a bit of an embarrassment," said Brianna Bodily, the spokesperson for the health district.
"This can strip away all of that, the concerns, the confusion, the extra time. It’s just one easy to locate place that you can drive up, drop off, no questions.”
While for some residents it may just be a chance to empty the medicine cabinet, for others it may be the opportunity to get a fresh start and get rid of addictive substances such as opioids.
“Many community members, upright community members, who have jobs and families and lead these wonderful lives have gotten addicted in the past because they had to use them after a surgery or after an injury and didn’t realize how addictive those could be," said Bodily.
Disposing of these prescriptions can also prevent other potential problems that some may not even think about. Such as a child getting their hands on a bottle of pills, something the Twin Falls School District has witnessed firsthand.
“These are not instances where these young children are out buying drugs off the corner," said Eva Craner, the Public Relation’s Director Twin Falls School District. "They’re encountering a prescription medication in their household and bringing them to school, not understanding that this is something that could cause harm to others.”
The district is urging parents to take advantage of Saturday's event.
“It’s an opportunity for families to go through their medicine cabinet and discover what's in there. Knowing what you have is the first step and then what things are expired, what things don’t we need anymore, and if you don’t have them, they can’t be misused., said Craner."
Find a Take Back Day drop-off location near you with the DEA's collection site locator.