Madigan Encourages Illinois Residents to Safely Dispose of Prescription Drugs

Attorney General Alerts Illinoisans to DEA’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alerted Illinois residents to Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day organized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that will provide free drop-off sites for expired or unused medication as part of a national effort to combat prescription drug abuse.

Collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday throughout Illinois to allow residents to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. Visit the DEA’s website for a list of the hundreds of locations in Illinois.

“Too much prescription medication gets into the wrong hands if not properly disposed,” Madigan said. “This program is a safe and easy way for anyone with expired or unused prescription medicine to properly dispose it.”

The national Take-Back Day was created by the DEA in 2010 to prevent pill abuse and theft. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, currently ranking second to marijuana use as the most common form of drug abuse in America. Pharmaceutical drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal street drugs when used without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision. Unused or expired prescription medications have been linked to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse.

The majority of prescription drug abusers obtain drugs from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Prescription drug abuse is also a persistent problem among teens. Recent studies cited by the DEA show that nearly one in five teens reported using prescription medicines at least once to get high, and nearly one-third of teens believe there is “nothing wrong” with using prescription drugs without a medication “once in a while.” Emergency room visits for prescription drug use among children under 20 increased by 45 percent between 2004 and 2010, according to the DEA.

National Take-Back sites provide a safe method of disposal to decrease the availability of prescription drugs for abusers and maintain the water supply. Medicine thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or sold illegally, and unused drugs that are flushed contaminate the water supply.

Similar take-back sites will be hosted across the country by law enforcement agencies working with community groups and public health organizations. The service is free and anonymous. Only solid medicines will be accepted for disposal. Liquids, injectable medications and needles will not be accepted. Since its creation, National Take-Back Day has resulted in the removal of more than 3.4 million pounds of medication nationwide.

If a take-back program is not available, the DEA has issued advice to properly dispose of medications:

Take the medication out of its bottle,

Mix the drug with something unappealing such as coffee grounds or kitty litter, and

Seal them in a bag or disposable container to throw away.

For more information on National Take-Back Day and prescription drug abuse, visit the DEA’s website.