April 29, 2017
Middle Tennesseans got rid of thousands of unused prescription pills Saturday when national, state and local agencies teamed up to host the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
The bi-annual effort to dispose of controlled substances has taken on added significance in the shadow of a deadly epidemic of opioid abuse. Many addicts begin using opioids that were prescribed to a friend or family member, so advocates say getting rid of extra pills could prevent addictions and save lives.
“A lot of people have the misconception that drugs are only in the street, but they’re not,” said Brian Sullivan, a volunteer who helped collect pills outside the Walgreens on West End Avenue. “They’re in our homes.”
At pharmacies across Nashville, more than 150 people participated, turning in 212 pounds of pills, including more than 5,600 controlled substance pills, according to an early estimate.
Sullivan, who also works at Addiction Campuses, a Nashville-based network of drug addiction treatment centers, said people turned in 55 pounds of of medication at the West End Walgreens. That total included more than 1,400 controlled substance pills.
Judy Morris said she stopped by the West End location because it was a convenient and responsible way to trash an old prescription bottle that had been sitting around for a while.
“I don’t want to harm the environment and I don’t want somebody going through the trash” and nabbing the pills, she said.
Saturday’s event was supported by a number of local, state and national organizations, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation and the the Count It! Lock It! Drop It! program to reduce prescription drug abuse in Tennessee.
Kristina Clark, co-developer of Count It! Lock It! Drop It!, pointed out the stakes of opioid abuse are especially high in Tennessee. In a statement, she said the state ranked second in the nation for opioid prescriptions and fourth in the nation for the number of opioid-related deaths.
The next take-back day will be hosted later this year. People who want to get rid of unused medicine in the meantime can use the permanent collection bin at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation headquarters at 901 R.S. Gass Blvd. in Nashville.
You can search for other permanent drop-off locations at http://tn.gov/environment/article/sp-unwanted-pharmaceuticals.
Read more in the Tennessean.
Adam Tamburin is a higher education reporter for the Tennessean.