On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Shawnee Police Department (SPD) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Gateway to Prevention and Recovery — through Pottawatomie Alliance Toward Community Health (PATCH) — will give the public its 17th opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Shawnee Police Department (SPD) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Gateway to Prevention and Recovery — through Pottawatomie Alliance Toward Community Health (PATCH) — will give the public its 17th opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Pills can be brought for disposal at two locations this year: to the Senior Citizen’s Center at 401 N. Bell Ave. and at The Clinic Pharmacy, 321 Kethley Road.

DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps — only pills or patches.

Once the event is over, the SPD will then seal the collection boxes and store them until the Rx meds can be taken to the Oklahoma City DEA office.

Last event in October

In the Fall, Americans nationwide did their part to reduce the opioid crisis by bringing the DEA and its more than 4,770 local and tribal law enforcement partners a record-setting 914,236 pounds — 457.12 tons — of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,839 collection sites.

Though still one of the smallest-yielding collection sites in the program, from 23 locations Oklahoma collected 717 pounds during the fall event, whereas still the highest collection site, California, disposed of 69,077 pounds within its 318 locations during the event.

The total amount of prescription drugs collected in the nation by DEA since the fall of 2010 now totals 10,878,950 pounds, or 5,440 tons through 16 collection events.

Now in its 9th year, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events continue to remove ever-higher amounts of opioids and other medicines from the nation’s homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens.

The beginning

DEA launched its prescription drug take back program Oct. 5, 2010, when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — posed potential safety and health hazards.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website epa.gov, drug disposal guidelines state, “Don’t flush expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so.”

In cities where residences are connected to wastewater treatment plants, drugs poured down the sink or flushed can pass through the treatment system and enter rivers and lakes. … Water treatment plants are generally not equipped to routinely remove medicines, the site said.

The EPA said the first choice is to take advantage of drug take-back events.

The effort's focus now, however, has become more centered around battling addiction.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse, the DEA website reports. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs, the site reads. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

“More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance. The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has led to the highest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “This is a crisis that must be addressed from multiple angles. Educating the public and removing these medications from households across the Unites States prevents misuse where it often starts.”

Complete results for DEA’s fall Take Back Day are available at https://takebackday.dea.gov/.