Unused pills are going back out onto the streets and being sold. It is a growing problem that police are trying to stop. They hope campaigns like Saturday's will help.
People cleaned out their medicine cabinets Saturday and brought their extra or expired prescriptions to police departments all over the country.
There were 25 drop-off sites located in the Bay Area. In San Francisco's Tenderloin District, police want prescription drugs to end up at those sites instead of ending up on the streets.
"Traditionally, street drug sales have been around, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, some marijuana sales," explained Lt. Josepth Engler. "What we're now seeing is a real increase in pharmaceutical pills on the street."
Vicodine, Oxycontin, and Morphine are the prescription drugs of choice on what is known as "Pill Hill" in the Tenderloin. ABC7 went to Leavenworth and Golden Gate Saturday to see it for ourselves. Police stopped two people and another two got away. It turned out the men did not have any pills on them, but one was still taken away for a probation violation. One sergeant said more pill pushers would be back in a matter of minutes.
The drugs collected Saturday will be taken away and burned.
"There's cancer drugs that I had to turn in that was old, and so I don't want them to get into the wrong people's hands, especially children's," one woman told ABC7.
According to the DEA, 1 in 7 teenagers admit to abusing prescription drugs to get high and they say pharmaceuticals are easier to get than illegal drugs. Overall, 6.2 million Americans abuse medicine that is not prescribed to them.
That is more than the number who use heroin, hallucinogens and cocaine combined.
Just about everyone who spoke to ABC7 Saturday said they really did not know how to get rid of their old medicines correctly. Many people have been told not to flush them down the toilet or throw them in the trash.
The DEA hopes to have another drug take back day in six months.
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.