National Take Back Day, a campaign led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with the goal of relieving Americans of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs that may potentially be dangerous, was able to gather 1½ tons of medicines. These medicines will then be properly disposed of, instead of being flushed down toilets or mixed in with coffee grounds, or worse, abused by teenagers.
A feature on the Houston Chronicle shared the following statement from Ray Andrews, the director of Houston Crackdown, the anti-drug division of the mayor’s office for public safety and homeland security: “The medicine cabinet has become the new drug dealer… To the extent we can warn people about drugs and help people dispose of their unused and expired drugs in a legal manner, we are literally saving lives.”
The primary goal of the effort is to reduce prescription drug abuse, but there is another issue that the effort was able to address: environmental concerns that may arise out of improper disposal of prescription drugs, which can potentially contaminate a community’s water supply.
Despite the repeated announcements that the drop-offs will be anonymous – no questions asked – there are still people who were bashful as they dropped off their medicines. And despite the significant amount of medicines that were gathered, there were collection sites that did not have that much traffic.
Anthony Scott, an assistant special agent in charge in the Houston office of the DEA, said: “Nobody’s going to get locked up behind this. We’re not going to peel off a label and look at someone’s name and that’s what they were afraid of… We’re hoping that the word gets out from this go-round that nothing bad came out of it and nobody got arrested, and I think next time we do it we’ll be more successful than we were today.”