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Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson encourages Minnesotans to mark National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, April 26, by finding and getting rid of their unused, unwanted prescription medicine as a way to stop drug abuse before it starts. Abuse of prescription medicine has contributed to a dangerous spike in heroin and other opiate abuse.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration set National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take Back Initiative collection sites in Minnesota are listed on the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control website.
“Tackling drug abuse is an overwhelming challenge – one that requires the effort of everyone in our communities,” Jesson said. “Illegally used prescription drugs are usually obtained from a friend or relative. Getting rid of painkillers you don’t intend to use is a common sense way for each of us to play a part in turning the tide.”
Prescription drugs have increasingly shown to be a gateway to heroin use for many. People who become addicted to prescription painkillers may turn to heroin to get the same effect when pills are not available. In Minnesota, 1 in 15 people who take non-medical prescription pain relievers will try heroin within 10 years, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. DHS data shows that the number of people admitted to drug treatment when heroin was the primary drug used has more than doubled from 2,334 in 2009 to 5,209 in 2013.
Unwanted, unused prescription drugs also may be safely disposed year-round at many local law enforcement and county offices. Contact county offices or local law enforcement for more information. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also provides guidelines for disposing of prescription drugs on its website. These include removing drugs from their original containers and mixing them with coffee grounds, kitty litter or other undesirable substances, putting the mixture in a sealable bag and putting it in the garbage.
Countering abuse of prescription drugs is a priority of the State Substance Abuse Strategy being implemented by the Department of Human Services, the departments of Health, Public Safety, Corrections, Education and other agencies as well as the State Judicial Board, Minnesota National Guard/Department of Military Affairs and the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.