DEA leading statewide prescription drug take-backs

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is coordinating prescription drug take-back events across Arizona.

The DEA and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies plan to set up more than 92 drop-off locations between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.

The program is designed to remove old, outdated and dangerous drugs from homes. But it is primarily intended to limit pill abuse and theft by getting rid of unwanted and unneeded narcotics and other drugs of abuse.

"Arizonans responded overwhelmingly to DEA's four previous Take-Back Day events, disposing of close to 27,000 pounds of pharmaceutical drugs in the past two years," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. "With the continued support and hard work of our law enforcement partners and community coalitions, these events have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, and increased awareness of this critical public health issue."

"Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in our community and we welcome the opportunity to address it by partnering with the DEA on this program," remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. "My office holds similar free "Take Back" events throughout the year, and the response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive," he added.

According to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than those who use cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined. Studies indicate that a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends. By offering the public a way to safely dispose of these medications, programs like the National Take-Back Day keep prescription drugs out of the hands of potential abusers and out of our water supply, which is where they wind up if they are flushed down a toilet or poured down a drain.

Finding a location is easy by going to the DEA's website at Just click on the "Got Drugs?" icon to access a collection location database and then enter a zip code to find nearby collection points.

2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)