FAIRMONT — According to a Drug Enforcement Administration survey, 9.7 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019.
The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also showed that many misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
Drug Take Back Day gives the public an opportunity to dispose of drugs they may no longer need in a proper and safe way. The Fairmont Police Department will have a place for medications to be disposed of Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sgt. Jason Offutt said one reason the police department participates in Drug Take Back Day is make sure there is an area in the city where residents can safely dispose drugs they no longer need.
“To have any of the drop-off locations one of the requirements is that an officer be present,” Offutt said.
Residents are asked to sign up ahead of time to take part in Drug Take Back Day to ensure an officer can be present when the medicines are brought to the public safety building.
“They’ll also collect it, keep it and take it to drop off sites set up by the DEA,” Offutt said.
He said people should dispose of their medications properly so someone who is not prescribed the medicine can’t get their hands on it and possibly abuse it or resell it. He said it’s also good to dispose of medicine properly so the medicine isn’t ingested by kids. Pamphlets will also be available to explain the right and wrong ways to dispose of medication.
“One of the big no nos is not to put it down the drain or down the toilet where it can get into groundwater or anything else,” Offutt said.
He said the take back days are a good chance for people to get rid of things that are expired or they might not need anymore.
“Say you had a prescription for something and you’re past the expiration date and you have a re-flare of whatever. The medication might no longer be effective of treating that so you’re better off to go and get a new prescription for it,” Offutt said.
Kevin McWilliams, a spokesperson with the DEA, said the federal agency has collected nearly 7,000 tons of medication since they started doing take back days 10 years ago. He said it’s especially important to dispose of medicine properly given overdose deaths are rising dramatically during the pandemic.
“It’s very important for communities to help make themselves safer by getting rid of unnecessary drugs before they fall into the hands of somebody who might abuse them,” McWilliams said.
He said the DEA started doing drug take back days because the opioid crisis was coming on and people were addicted to pain pills.
“Oftentimes people are prescribed more drugs than they actually need. They’ve got them laying around the house in medicine cabinets,” McWilliams said.
People are not advised to throw medication into the waste basket because someone can easily take the drugs out. Flushing medicine down the toilet is also not advised given it will get into the water system and is bad for the environment.
“We provide a safe way for people to dispose of those medications and you can visit deatakeback.com type in your ZIP code and it will list the closest disposal sites to you. It’s very each to do,” McWilliams said.