With opioid overdose deaths increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration announces its 20th Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 24.
A number of agencies are holding collection events in Sevier County on Saturday, including:
• Pigeon Forge Police Department, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kroger, 220 Wears Valley Road
• Sevierville Police Department, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kroger, 702 Winfield Dunn Parkway (Hwy. 66) and the police department, 300 Gary Wade Boulevard.
• Gatlinburg Police Department, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the department, 1230 East Parkway.
“Please help keep your family and our community safe by dropping-off your unwanted pills, capsules, patches and prescription drugs,” said SPD Lieutenant Rebecca Cowan. “For the first time, we will have officers at two locations to better serve our residents.”
At the last Take Back Day in October 2020, DEA collected a record-high amount of expired, unwanted, and unused prescription medications, with the public turning in close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs. Over the 10-year span of Take Back Day, DEA has brought in more than 6,800 tons of prescription drugs. With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, clearing out unused medicine is essential.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has seen an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 83,544 Americans overdosing during the 12-month period ending July 1, 2020, the most ever recorded in a 12-month period. The increase in drug overdose deaths appeared to begin prior to the COVID-19 health emergency but accelerated significantly during the first months of the pandemic.
DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Liquids (including intravenous solutions), syringes and other sharps, and illegal drugs will not be accepted. DEA will continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges at its drop off locations provided lithium batteries are removed.
Helping people dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce addiction and stem overdose deaths.