By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Those who have prescription drugs they no longer need are being urged to take advantage of the DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event being sponsored by ATS The Bridge and local law enforcement agencies.
It will take place this Saturday, April 27th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in front of the Colony Square shopping center at 2524 Keith St. This will be a free opportunity to safely dispose of any unneeded medications.
“We don’t want to be enabling someone to misuse prescriptions, so we can help by emptying our medicine cabinets,” said Reba Terry, executive director of ATS The Bridge. “As the motto for the national event goes, ‘Don’t be the dealer.’”
ATS The Bridge, a local organization dedicated to raising awareness of and helping those facing addiction, is once again partnering with the 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and the Cleveland Police Department to host the event.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration hosts National Prescription Drug Take Back Day each fall and spring, and the local agencies celebrated a successful take-back day this past October.
“We had an incredible response in the fall,” Terry said. “We ended up with four barrels of prescription drugs. We were really excited about the turnout.”
Now that we are squarely in the middle of spring cleaning season, organizers are hoping even more people will take advantage of the opportunity to clean out their medicine cabinets.
Six million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs in 2017, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The DEA says this “shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.”
Terry said this number has likely increased, and this is also a big concern locally. She has heard several stories about people stealing medications from their friends and loved ones to fuel their addictions. She added there have also been stories elsewhere of handymen, pastors and other visiting guests raiding medicine cabinets when they ask to use the restroom.
She added addiction “has no specific age,” and as such it affects people of all ages — from young teens all the way up to people in their 80s.
“We just have to be good stewards and make sure they are not getting their prescription medications from us,” Terry said. “If you don’t need them, get rid of them. If you need them, lock them up securely. We have this as an opportunity to protect others from themselves.”
Anyone can drop off their medications Saturday to be safely disposed of by the law enforcement agencies — ”no questions asked.” One can simply show up with medication; no registration will be required.
Representatives of ATS The Bridge and the Bradley County Health Department will also be on hand to provide the public with information on addiction treatment and other health resources.
Those who cannot get by the event will still be able to drop medications off at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office. The DEA also lists the Cooke’s Food Store Pharmacy at 3400 Keith St. and CVS Pharmacy at 2424 North Ocoee St. as “Controlled Substance Public Disposal Locations.”