Ohio has some of the country’s most-diligent residents when it comes to properly disposing of old or expired prescription drugs.
At least, that’s what statistics indicate from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which was held on Oct. 27, said Cheryl Davis, a DEA spokeswoman in Detroit.
The “Take Back” program’s goal is to remove expired and potentially dangerous prescription drugs from the community to prevent abuse, Davis said.
“We know it’s very beneficial to Ohio,” Davis said. “It benefits the community and helps to curb some of the opioid abuse.”
Ohioans turned over 45,206 pounds (about 22.6 tons) of discarded drugs that day. It was the fifth-highest amount, trailing only California, Texas, Wisconsin and New York. With the exception of Wisconsin, the other states in the top five have significantly higher populations than Ohio.
Altogether, 457.1 tons was collected from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. That total also includes 1,710 pounds from Native American and Alaskan Native communities.
Since 2010, the DEA has sponsored National Take Back Day collections twice a year, in April and October. The fall total was slightly higher than the spring collection of 456 tons, with Ohio checking in at 40,509 pounds (20.25 tons). The total over eight years is now nearly 11 million tons collected, the DEA reported.
“We know that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet,” DEA acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a news release.
“If we reduce the availability of those unused or expired medications through proper disposal, the fewer drugs there are to be misused, and fewer people will be at risk for abuse, addiction, overdose and even death,” Dhillon said.
Ohio also does better than some larger states because it has 282 collection sites available to the public. That’s behind only Texas, California and Pennsylvania, all of which have more than 300, Davis said.
Within 50 miles of Columbus, there are 25 collection sites at drugstores and hospitals. Davis said she knows that some hospitals and pharmacies offer a service to dispose of drugs year-round — not just on the two special DEA collection days.
The DEA doesn’t go through what is collected, so there’s no breakdown of the drugs discarded.
“It’s truly ‘no questions asked,'” Davis said.
Another side benefit of the program is that it provides a better and safer way of disposing of drugs. The federal Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration have advised that flushing prescription drugs down a toilet or throwing them in the trash can pose potential safety and health hazards.
Andrew Moss is on the front lines in fighting drug addiction as vice president of Addiction Stabilization Services at Maryhaven, central Ohio’s oldest and most comprehensive behavioral-health center. Moss said the “Take Back” program is a “tool in the tool belt” of strategies in fighting drug abuse.
“It is a positive step that can be taken by people in Ohio,” Moss said.