The National Institute on Drug Abuse says an additional 2.4 million Americans abuse prescription drugs each year. It's an alarming statistic that health and safety experts say needs to change course -- and this weekend you can help them make that happen.
On Saturday, April 27 from 10:00am - 2:00pm, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is teaming up with local law enforcement agencies nationwide (including here in Southwest and Central Virginia) to set up "drug take back" stations, where the public can safely drop off any unused prescriptions or other medications they have.
"A lot of elderly people as well as any other individuals out there that have prescription medications, most of the time they don't know what to do with them," said Officer Travis Akins, a Crime Prevention Officer with the Roanoke Police Department. "Most of the time they put them on a shelf or lock them away, but truth be told they can get in the wrong hands very quickly. So we've joined forces to make sure that they can all be disposed of properly in a safe manner."
The DEA and its partners organize these take back events twice each year -- once in the spring and once in the fall. During last year's spring event, participating agencies in Virginia collected 16,899 pounds of prescription drugs.
The DEA says nationally it hopes to take back 330,000 pounds of unused medications during Saturday's event.
"A lot of drug abuse starts with the misuse of prescription drugs," said Akins. "That's a huge problem with our youth. So if we can keep those prescription drugs out of the wrong hands at an early age, I firmly believe that we could also curtail some of the other illicit drug use down the road as they become older."
Take back station locations in the Roanoke Valley include:
-Roanoke Civic Center parking lot
-Super Shoes parking lot on W. Main Street in Salem
-Tanglewood Kroger parking lot
-Daleville Kroger parking lot
-Vinton Kroger parking lot
-Brambleton (at Colonial Ave) Kroger parking lot
-Bonsack Kroger parking lot
-Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Station #1 on Hershberger Road
If you don't see a location close to you, call your local law enforcement agency to find out where they'll be.
Or you can plug in your zip code on this DEA website