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Sean D. Reyes
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AGO & DEA Announce Utah Take Back Program

DEA AND AGO ANNOUNCE NATIONAL PRESCRIPTION DRUG TAKE BACK EVENT

 SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announce Utah Take Back, a day set aside to help rid homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs. The two offices encourage Utahns to participate in this year’s Take Back day on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at convenient locations across the state.

“Prescription drug abuse and deaths related to opioids have risen to epidemic levels in Utah and across the country. Opioid addiction has ravaged rural and urban areas as well as uptown and downtown neighborhoods. It has taken far too many lives and ruined countless more. Those who suffer from addiction may be soccer moms or executives. They can be star athletes, high achieving students, popular kids or “loners.” They are our kids, grandkids, and kids from the block.  And whether we realize it or not, our medicine cabinets might be the very place where they are looking or have already been for their next high or pill party,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.” In 2016, over 64,000 Americans died from drug overdose rates, which is on average 90 people a day. Utah has the 7th highest drug overdose rate in the United States, losing over 10 people a week. Since 2000, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has increased 400%. Last year, Utah collected over 33,000 pounds of prescription drugs to dispose of properly and the aim this year is to collect more.

DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser stated,

“In a coordinated response to the national heroin and opioid crisis, DEA is working aggressively with our federal, state, and local partners to address America’s prescription pill and heroin abuse problem.  Recently, DEA has implemented a 360 Strategy within the State of Utah to address this public health crisis, and the National Drug Takeback Initiative is a key component of that strategy.  Please partner with the DEA and the Utah Attorney General’s Office in taking determined steps to collect your unused, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs so that they can be properly disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.  Help keep Utah drug safe!”

In addition to contributing to addictions and overdoses, improper disposal of unused and expired medications leads to damage to our environment. Medications that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies. Measurable amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants, and medications have all been found in U.S. lakes and rivers. Wastewater treatment and septic systems are unable to remove most medicines, which are a special type of hazardous chemical unsafe for solid waste systems and landfills. Drugs can be very toxic to people and wildlife, even in low doses. 

The Take Back service, provided through the partnership of the AGO, DEA, Department of Health, Utah National Guard, and Prevention Resource Centers, is free of charge and anonymous. Not only is it an effort to get the public to dispose of medications, but also to educate as many people as possible about the dangers prescriptions medications can pose.  The following items are returnable: prescription medicines; over the counter medicines; vitamins; pet medicines; medicated ointments and lotions; inhalers; liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces); and medicine samples.

For more information about the April 28th Take Back and to find a collection site, visit www.utahtakeback.org.

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