JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of people participated in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.
Throughout Northeast Florida, there were several participating locations for the free event, which encouraged participants to bring old, unused medications to drop-off locations.
“We don’t want the medication to get into the wrong hands,” said Ana Fernandez, with SMA Healthcare.
Fernandez gave everyone who participated in the take-back effort at Ponte Vedra High School a product destroyer.
“It is a powder and what the community persons can do is put their liquid medication or pill medication in here, you pour in a little bit of water, you close it, shake it and you can dispose of it at your home safely,” Fernandez explained.
The Glynn County Police Department posted a video on its Facebook page about the nationwide effort to take back prescription drugs safely and conveniently.
Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained by family and friends, often from a home medicine cabinet.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States introduces new risks to Americans impacted by substance use disorder. As well as a series of new challenges related to treatment and recovery.
According to the Florida Department of Health, in the first eight months of 2020, there was an unprecedented 43% spike in drug overdose deaths statewide in Florida, compared to the same time in 2019. Now, State Attorney General Ashley Moody said the crisis is claiming close to 17 people a day.
That’s why drug take-back efforts are so important, Fernandez said.
“It’s great for the community as it’s a place for them to come and they don’t throw out their medication unsafely,” Fernandez said.
Drop sites accepted any expired or unwanted prescription, over-the-counter medications, vitamins or herbal remedies as well as veterinary medications. However, hypodermic needles and syringes could not be accepted.
“Syringes will have to be taken to the fire department. They’re the only ones who can safely dispose of the syringes,” Fernandez said.
In Jacksonville, several organizations organized a “syringe pick up day” to safely collect and dispose of syringes in Four Corners Park, Panama Park, and Willowbranch Park.
For those unable to make Saturday’s event, there’s a drop-off box inside JSO headquarters at 501 East Bay Street for unused prescriptions. It is accessible from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day.
The drop-off accepts prescription drugs and Schedule II-V controlled substances and non-controlled drugs.
It does not accept over-the-counter drugs, illegal Schedule I drugs, needles, syringes, sharp containers, medical devices, batteries, aerosol cans, inhalers, chemicals, mercury-containing devices, radioactive drugs or liquid chemotherapy drugs.
Last October, Floridians dropped off more than 38,000 pounds of drugs. For more information on how to properly dispose of unwanted prescription painkillers and other medications visit Dose of Reality Florida.
If you have medication that you would like to turn in, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov/ to find a year-round drop-off location near you.