May 28, 2017
More than 15 tons of drugs were collected statewide at the most recent DEA take-back event, setting a new record.
The total, 5 tons more than last year, marks the continuation of a Tennessee effort to address the opioid epidemic that plagues the state.
A new report from the Tennessee Department of Health on drug overdose deaths sheds light on just who is falling victim. Drug overdose fatalities are overwhelmingly white, mostly male and increasingly less likely to have prescriptions for the drugs that kill them.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to address that by providing a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.
“We all have to work on this together,” said Chris Tersigni, DEA assistant special agent in charge. “We are not going to arrest our way out of this problem, and we are not going to treat our way out of this problem, so we all need to work together.
“This event shows unbelievably great collaboration.”
Tennesseans who participated in the biannual take-back event held on April 29, turned in 31,183 pounds of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at sites set up throughout the state.
There were 116 take-back sites across Tennessee, including one in every county, with participation from 93 different law enforcement entities, according to Tersigni.
- Davidson County locations, which included six Walgreens and two St. Thomas Health locations, took in 229 pounds of pills.
- Middle Tennessee locations took in 12,760 pounds of pills.
- Tennessee (statewide) locations took in 31,183 pounds of pills.
Pills collected covered “the whole gamut” of types, Tersigni said, including vitamins and aspirin and “almost anything you can find in a medicine cabinet.”
Tersigni couldn’t say exactly how much of the statewide collection was Schedule II narcotics, which include opioids, but he called it “a significant percentage.”
He personally attended a take-back event in Hendersonville and said he saw mostly-full pill bottles of hydrocodone or oxycontin being turned in.
“Even if you can say 10 percent collected is Schedule II narcotics, that’s significant,” he said, adding that nationwide 900,000 pounds of pills were collected. “That ultimately is narcotics that will not be diverted in a way that will harmful to the community.”
- 6 Nashville-area Walgreens locations
- 212 pounds of pure pills (no packaging)
- 5,634.25 individual pills that were controlled substances (prescription pain medications — hydrocodone or oxy; anxiety meds; sleeping meds)
- More than 150 participants disposed of medications
- Estimated street value of controlled substances: $21,000
Read the full story on the Tennessean.
Hired by The Tennessean in 2002, Jessica Bliss spent six years as a sports reporter before joining the lifestyles team. Now, as a storytelling columnist her focus is to bring voice, perspective and emotion to our community’s most compelling human interest stories. She believes that the more people feel connected to each other – either through words or experiences – the more they will feel connected to their city and inspired to take part in making it a better place.