HARTFORD, Conn. – The Connecticut National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force partnered with the Drug Enforcement Agency, Connecticut State Police, and local police departments to help dispose of unwanted prescription medications during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Oct. 23-24, 2021.
The taskforce provided Soldiers and vehicles from the 118th Medical Battalion and 192nd Engineer Battalion to two locations in Rocky Hill and Bridgeport. These Soldiers helped weigh and transport more than 7,000 pounds of expired or unused drugs which were voluntarily turned in by Connecticut Residents.
This nationwide event was created by the DEA to help dispose of old, expired, or unwanted drugs in order to help reduce the possibility of their misuse. At the end of the event, all the turned in drugs were destroyed at an incinerator.
According to a national survey on drug use conducted in 2019, 9.7 million people in the United States have misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people have misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people have misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives that year alone.
“Taking time to regularly clean out your medicine cabinet is something we should all do,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull in a press release dated April 23, 2021. “Properly disposing of unwanted and unused prescriptions is one way to effectively prevent addiction, which often begins with leftover prescription opioids. We also remind people not to flush prescriptions, which can be harmful to the environment.”
To highlight the importance of properly disposing these drugs, the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics says that approximately 700,000 Americans have died due to drug overdoses since the year 2000. Additionally, almost 50,000 Americans die every year from opioid overdoses, that’s an average of 136 people per day, and more than 10 million people have been cited as having misused opioids in any given year.
This same website goes on to say that in Connecticut, an average of 948 people die from opioid overdose each year. Of those, 24.4% are caused from prescription opioids. To put this in perspective, almost 28 of every 100,000 Connecticut residents die due to overdose, which is more than 88% above the national death rate.
“A majority of the prescription drugs that are misused are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. It’s important to safeguard your home and community by regularly cleaning out medicine cabinets and properly disposing of unused or expired pharmaceuticals,” said DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, in the same press release. “Bringing medicines that are no longer needed to a designated local collection site for safe disposal can prevent misuse and potentially save a life.”
For more information about Drug Take Back Day and how you can turn in your unused prescription medication, visit takebackday.dea.gov.