Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin joined Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) Director Craig Stenning, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), RI State Police and local law enforcement at a press conference this afternoon to remind the public to gather up their unused, expired and unwanted prescription medications for this Saturday's statewide Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
Scheduled for this Saturday, September 29th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the public can drop off prescription drugs at one of the 40 locations statewide. The event is free and anonymous.
"All of us who are passionate about reducing drug abuse cannot ignore the growing dangers of prescription drug abuse, particularly among teens and young adults. By preventing drug abuse where it starts, we can make a tremendous difference in our community," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Users don't need to buy their drugs on dark street corners. Most abused prescription drugs come from family and friends – and the home medicine cabinet. You could be a drug dealer and not even know it."
Prescription drug abuse is quickly becoming a major epidemic in Rhode Island and across the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more Rhode Islanders die from accidental prescription drug overdose than any other cause of death. And the number of individuals - especially teenagers - who abuse prescription medication is growing.
"The number of Rhode Island teenagers admitted to treatment, who report prescription drugs as primary drugs of abuse, has quadrupled since 2009," said Craig Stenning, Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH). "Drug Take Back Days are an important first step in reducing the supply of prescription medication that can be diverted or misused. My Department is proud to fund local task forces across the State who work to educate their communities and increase awareness by sponsoring community events and working with families, parents and schools. Usually, when we talk about reducing drugs on the supply side, we talk about increased law enforcement. But here, every parent and every family can make a major dent in the availability of prescription drugs to our young people."
Since the Prescription Drug Take Back program launched in 2010, Rhode Islanders have disposed of more than 5,300 pounds of prescription drugs. "Misused prescription drugs are no different than other illegal drugs in the dangers they pose to people young and old in the City of Providence," said Mayor Angel Taveras. "By educating our community about the importance of getting unused and expired drugs out of the medicine cabinet, we can build a healthier and safer Providence for everyone."
"This Prescription Drug Take Back Day gives individuals an opportunity to dispose of unneeded or unwanted medications. Unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to accidental poisoning, overdose, abuse, and crime" said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin L. Lane. "We recommend people empty their medicine cabinets of these unwanted medicines and drop it off no questions asked."
"The abuse of prescription medication is a major problem for law enforcement. I commend the Attorney General for taking the lead in informing the public about the problem and coordinating with multiple agencies to find different ways to take these dangerous drugs off the street," stated Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
"We're one of Rhode Island's largest pharmacy chains, so it's important we take a lead role in disposing old prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines safely and responsibly. This program takes drugs off the streets and prevents drug abuse. It also ensures that these old medicines will be disposed of in an environmentally responsible way and not dumped into landfills or wind up in our water supply," added Ralph Seavey, Walgreens District manager for Rhode Island.
In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines - flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash - both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Please note: Needles are not accepted at collection sites. Liquids are accepted, so long as they are sealed.