Clean out your medicine cabinets Saturday for Prescription Drug Take Back Day
The 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday at multiple locations around the state from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event offers a safe, convenient means of disposing of leftover medications while also educating the public about the potential for abuse.
In Florida, 2.56% of all deaths are caused by drug overdoses, and Florida’s drug overdose death rate is 23.2% higher than the national average, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Florida Association of Managing Entities, which represents nonprofits that oversee state and federal behavioral health systems.
“Properly disposing of prescription medications is a simple way to prevent accidental drug overdoses in young children and to keep them out of the hands of teens who may misuse them," said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. "By simply checking cabinets to ensure that old medications are properly discarded, you can save not only the lives of your own children, but also people in your community.”
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the nation has seen an increase in opioid-related mortality. Also, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says the majority of opioid addictions starts with prescription pills found in medicine cabinets.
Dr. Jodie Graves, HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital’s director of pharmacy, said access to medication in the home is a major source of unintentional pediatric poisonings. Each year about 6,000 emergency visits nationwide are related to children younger than 6 ingesting medication.
“It affects families and affects families like mine, and it affects families just like yours," Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers said during a news conference Tuesday. "And I think all of us have a story we can tell that's similar to that. This is personal to me, and I would like to see everybody in the community participate in cleaning out those medicine cabinets.”
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in November removed close to 745,000 pounds of unneeded medications, according to the DEA.
Beyond National Take Back Day, there are opportunities to safely dispose of medications at pharmacies, hospitals, police departments, and throughout the year, the DEA says.
What’s accepted? Prescription drugs, Schedule II-V controlled substances and non-controlled drugs. The dropoff sites aren’t just for opioids — you can clear out any prescription drugs, including antibiotics.
What is not accepted? Illegal (Schedule I) drugs, needles/syringes/sharps containers, medical devices/batteries, aerosol cans/inhalers, chemicals, mercury-containing devices, radioactive drugs and liquid chemotherapy drugs.
Health News Florida’s Rick Mayer contributed to this report.