JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Countless potentially harmful drugs are now out of cabinets -- and off the streets-- thanks to the DEA’s Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.
People across the region safely dropped off unused medications at multiple locations, including HCA Memorial Hospital and HCA Orange Park Hospital, which hosted Crush the Crisis events.
The events took place in Flagler, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties.
The medications will now be safely destroyed.
Dr. Molly Stott, a toxicology fellow with the Poison Control Information Center, said keeping unused medications is how addiction starts.
“With the ongoing opioid epidemic, it’s scary to know that it starts at home most of the time, and we have so many ways to stop it, yet it’s still ongoing,” Stott said.
In 2021, there were more than 107,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. -- 15% more than in 2020.
“A lot of the opioids we’re seeing out on the streets are actually coming in from people’s homes, so a lot of people may take their pain medication and they stop taking it because the pain goes away, and they still have a half full bottle of Percocet or Lortab or oxycodone in the cabinets, and somehow those medications get out of the house into our neighborhoods,” said Dr. Scott Rhude with HCA Florida Memorial Hospital.
But it’s not just prescription meds causing the problem.
“Over the past three years, we’ve seen a rise in young girls getting into over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, and Aleve, attempting to cause harm using those medications,” said Dr. Lindsay Schaackrothstein, assistant director of the Florida Poison Information Center-Jacksonville.
Schaackrothstein said dropping off unused over-the-counter meds can save lives too.
“Usually, parents don’t think to lock those types of medications up,” Schaackrothstein said. “The OTC medications. Again, they’re easily accessible because they’re generally not locked up.”
If you weren’t able to drop off your unused medication Saturday, this is another option: a Deterra bag. You simply open it up, put in your meds, fill it up with water, and wait 30 seconds.
From there, you just seal it back up and safely toss it in the trash. The bags can be purchased online.
Stott says if you have questions, don’t hesitate to call the Poison Control Information Center at 800-222-1222
“I implore you to call your local Poison Center to see where unneeded medications can be disposed of properly outside of these take back events,” Stott said. “But these drug take back events play a huge role in keeping our community safe.”