Police departments host prescription drug drop-off

September 24, 2010 8:15:30 PM PDT
Most of us have unused pharmaceuticals in our medicine cabinets. What do you do with yours? The Drug Enforcement Administration is urging you not to hang onto them.

Law enforcement agencies say a surprising amount of unused medicine left hanging around wind up on the streets. So, all day on Saturday, police stations all across the country will open their doors and take back all your unused legal drugs.

On average, we use about $250 billion worth of medicines per year. Most Americans have been prescribed at least some kind of medicine and often they don't take all the pills in the bottle.

"I just have a lot of it. I hold onto in case I need it one day," Lee Carpenter from Nashville said.

"I think people hold onto it is because I'm not sure people actually believe the sell by date is the sell by date," Lisa Burlingham from Oakland said.

"Mostly like muscle relaxers, pain medication like from a surgery I had," Carpenter said.

"Some pain killer I got from the dentist that was two years old, but I put it in the garbage," Burlingham said.

Drugs that are not properly disposed may wind up in our water and landfills. However, law enforcement says leaving them in your home is not a good idea either.

"Three quarters of prescription medicines that are abused in the United States actually come from family or friends and often times from family medicine cabinets," Sgt. Ardraychak from SFPD said.

Sgt. Ardraychak says most prescription drug abuse today is actually taking pills from family members or friends who leave unused medicines in their cabinet.

"We're talking about vicodin, OxyContin and other types of medication that people use to get high," he said.

Some of those drugs wind up being sold on the streets, and officials say teenagers are the most likely to experiment with pharmaceuticals they find in a family home.

According to the DEA:

  • One in seven teenagers admits to abusing prescription drugs to get high.

  • Most teens say pharmaceuticals are easier to obtain than illegal drugs.

  • Overall, 6.2 million Americans abuse medicine that is not prescribed to them and that's more than the number who use heroin, hallucinogens and cocaine combined.
Law enforcement agencies across the nation are asking that everybody empty their medicine cabinets tomorrow of unwanted pills.

Police and sheriffs across the bay area are opening their doors to let you drop off your drugs for free.

"Illegal drugs are not covered in this type of thing so we will not be accepting cocaine, amphetamines, that sort of thing," said.

Consumers say up to now they have been uncertain what to do with their unused pills.

"There's no place to recycle it. You can't to Whole Foods and they have a thing for batteries fobut nothing for OxyContin," Robin Hall said.

List of drop-off locations:
  • Central: 766 Vallejo St.
  • Southern: 850 Bryant St.
  • Bayview: 201 Williams St.
  • Mission: 630 Valencia St.
  • Northern: 1125 Fillmore St.
  • Park: 1899 Waller St.
  • Richmond: 461 Sixth Ave.
  • Ingleside: 1 Sgt. John V. Young Lane
  • Taraval: 2345 24th Ave.
  • Tenderloin: 301 Eddy St.

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