PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There was a national effort Saturday to try to fight the opioid epidemic with “Take Back Your Drugs Day.”
Families cleaned out their medicine cabinets to get rid of old painkillers.
The Rite Aid drug store in Oakmont was one of thousands of collection sites around the country accepting expired, unused and dangerous prescription drugs.
“We just wanted to get rid of it, and this is the most responsible way,” Kim Bann said.
“We just didn’t want to throw it in the garbage or throw it in the river where someone could get ahold of it,” Mike Bann said.
It’s all part of the DEA’s national prescription drug take-back day, coming on the heels of President Trump’s declaration of a public health emergency due to opioid abuse.
So far the response from the public has been overwhelming.
“My father was on medication. I was on it, my wife, my mother. And I didn’t want to flush it down the drain,” Lenn Staniszewski said.
“It’s a danger. Most of it can be expired. What we’re trying to prevent is accidental exposures, poisoning and, of course, misuse and abuse by youth,” David Battiste with the DEA said.
All types of prescription meds were accepted with no questions asked, but the emphasis is on commonly prescribed pain pills like oxycodin and percoset.
“I was on pain meds for four and a half months this year because of a health problem,” Staniszewski said. “Fortunately, I didn’t have a problem with it, but it is amazing how many problems there are out there.”
“History has told us folks that are addicted to oxycodin, there is a path once their addiction escalates to heroin,” Battiste said. “It’s an unfortunate fact, but that’s the way it is.”
During a similar effort in April, 1 million pounds of prescription drugs were collected. The DEA says the take-back program will continue as long as it’s needed.