Drug Enforcement Administration

2017 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

by Pablo Bolanos on April 14, 2017

An ambulance blazes by a sea of idling cars in the midst of evening rush-hour. Weaving through traffic, the EMT’s singular goal is to arrive at the emergency room as quickly as possible. The passenger is a victim of accidental prescription drug poisoning. This scenario plays out daily in cities across the country. In fact, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project estimates that from 2005 to 2014 opioid-related emergency department visits increased 99%, from 89.1 to 177.7 per 100,000 people.

Sadly, many of these emergency department visits are fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 183,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids from 1999 to 2015. One of these lethal opioids is fentanyl, a powerful drug prescribed to treat the severe, chronic pain associated with cancer and other diseases. In the past two decades, the Federal Drug Administration has received more than 30 reports of accidental exposure to the powerful pain medication found in fentanyl patches – most were children younger than two years old.

In an effort to avoid accidental prescription drug poisoning and other incidents of unintended exposure, all too often our first, well-meaning inclination may be to simply throw away or to flush old medications down the toilet. Although both options seem like reasonable solutions, if not done properly, these actions can have unintended consequences to the environment and may add to the circulation of unused medication.

For that reason, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) introduced the National Drug Take-Back Day in 2010. This semi-annual program provides safe disposal areas throughout the country for anyone to turn in their unused prescription medications, no strings attached. Nearing its 12th event, the initiative has successfully resulted in the disposal of an astonishing 3,208 tons of unused prescription drugs in more than 5,000 cities. The only way to do justice to the awesome amount of returned medications through this program is by looking at the numbers in a slightly different way:

Participating in programs like this can literally help save lives. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.1% of the population aged 12 or older misused prescription drugs in the past year. More than half (53.7%) of those individuals reported that they obtained the prescription pain relievers from a friend or relative. The most eye-opening statistic may be that our country faces a historic opioid epidemic that claimed more than 33,000 lives in 2015, the highest one-year toll on record.

If you’re unable to make it to an official drug take-back location, home disposal is always an option. That said, specific steps need to be taken for the safety of those in the home and the environment. For that reason, we’ve created a step-by-step guide for proper home disposal of unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

To learn more about the Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative and to locate a DEA approved disposal location collection site near you, visit the DEA’s event website.

Marijuana Remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance

by Pablo Bolanos on August 22, 2016

marijuana plantIn 1996, medical marijuana became legal in California, and since then, 24 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted similar laws. In addition, four states have passed initiatives legalizing the sale, distribution, and consumption of marijuana while the federal government remains steadfast in their scheduling of the drug.

Recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denied two petitions to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The DEA classifies drugs, substances, and certain chemicals into five schedules depending on the drug’s acceptable medical use and its potential for abuse.

Schedule I – Includes drugs defined by the DEA as those with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse like heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote

Schedule II – Includes substances with high potential for abuse, with use possibly leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples include: Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin

Schedule III – Includes drugs that have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such as testosterone are among the drugs listed in this schedule

Schedule IV – Includes drugs that pose a low potential for abuse and a low risk for dependence like Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ambien, and Tramadol

Schedule V – Includes drugs, substances and chemicals that contain limited quantities of certain narcotics, including cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine like Robitusson AC, Lomotil, Motofen, and Lyrica,

POLICE MARIJUANAWhen presented with the proposals to reschedule marijuana, the DEA did not reject them without consideration. Instead, they engaged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and requested a scientific and medical evaluation in order to receive an educated recommendation as to whether marijuana should be rescheduled. The DEA’s Acting Administrator, Chuck Rosenberg, offered thorough responses to both proposals, which can be found in the Federal Register.

Although pro-marijuana propaganda promotes what could be considered myths about the drug’s alleged safety, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance because it does not meet criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment and has a high potential for abuse.

Download our reference guide for Common Drugs of Abuse.

To learn more about marijuana, visit our website or contact us online.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

August 26, 2015News

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced its tenth annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This day is an opportunity for people to safely dispose of any unused or expired prescription medications anonymously and free of cost. Medications left in homes are a leading cause of accidental poisoning, and drug abusers often get drugs from […]

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Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

September 24, 2014News

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible way for individuals to dispose of unused prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. The latest data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reports that prescription opiate rates, which include hydrocodone […]

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National Take-Back Day

April 19, 2012News

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, to be held on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to dispose of those medications easily and safely. […]

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National Take-Back Initiative Scheduled for October 29

October 5, 2011News

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) set October 29 as a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in order to provide a venue for individuals who want to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs. Studies indicated that more than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs and that a majority of abused prescription drugs are […]

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