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State Attorney General Lori Swanson and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are encouraging Minnesota residents to participate in the 13th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday by ridding their homes of unused, unneeded or expired prescription painkillers and other medications.
"Deaths from prescription painkiller abuse and other opioids continue to rise in Minnesota, and most people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family members. The best way to keep prescription drugs from being abused or diverted is to safely dispose of them as soon as they are no longer needed," Swanson said in a news release.
Disposing of unneeded medications is particularly important given the connection between prescription drug abuse and use of other illicit opioids like heroin, she said. About 80 percent of heroin users first abuse prescription drugs.
"The National Prescription Take Back Initiative provides the perfect opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted and potentially dangerous medications before they can be abused, often with deadly consequences," said Kenneth Solek, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA's Minneapolis-St Paul district office.
The only way to help prevent drug dependence and abuse is to limit the numbers of opioids, and encourage responsible prescribing by physicians and other providers, said Dr. Heather Bell of Little Falls.
"This decreases the access to controlled substances in people's homes because we know the first exposure many people have to narcotics is through friends and family. Drug take back days are an extremely important step in minimizing opioid abuse and primarily diversion," she said. "By bringing unused medications to drop boxes or events like take-backs, it helps eliminate unused medications that have the potential to be diverted."
Take Back Day is sponsored by the DEA, and the agency hosts two take back days each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The DEA reports that, since 2010, more than 3,601 tons of prescription medications have been collected and disposed of at Take Back events across the country.
Take Back Day events will be held in more than 100 locations across the state on Saturday. Most events run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Even if a law enforcement agency in a particular community is not hosting an event on Take Back Day, many agencies and pharmacies have drug-collection receptacles that are available year round. An interactive map with permanent disposal locations across the state is available at doseofreality.mn.gov/drug-takeback/find-a-take-back-location/.