Oct 25, 2013 9:00 AM by Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Do you have any expired or unused prescription medicines cluttering up your medicine cabinet? You can get rid of them safely and quickly at sites across the United States during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday.
The free and anonymous service will be available at thousands of locations across the United States, with collection sites open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said in a news release.
Soaring rates of abuse of prescription drugs -- especially painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin -- are a key reason for the annual event. Abuse rates in the United States are alarmingly high, the DEA said, with 6.8 million Americans abusing prescription drugs -- nearly twice as many as those using cocaine, heroin, inhalants and hallucinogens combined.
Studies also show that most abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including those lifted from home medicine cabinets.
During the six previous drug take-back days, people turned in nearly 2.8 million pounds of prescription drugs, the DEA said. Last year, more than 5,800 collection sites were operated by more than 4,300 of the agency's law enforcement partners.
To find a collection site near you during this year's event, you can go to the DEA website or call 1-800-882-9539.
One expert said Prescription Drug Take-Back Day targets a very important issue.
"The abuse of prescription medication is one of the biggest drug problems in the United States today," said Sheila Brocavich, an assistant clinical professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at St. John's University in New York City.
"It's very important for parents to talk with the kids in their lives about the danger of abusing prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and by safeguarding and properly disposing of unused medications," Brocavich said in a university news release.
Brocavich offered some tips to help prevent prescription-drug abuse:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about how to dispose of unused medications.