Fewer opioids are likely to get in the wrong hands after a medicine cabinet-clearing event across South Florida — and the nation — on Saturday.
Dozens of local police agencies from Miami to Coconut Creek to Jupiter joined the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for the 17th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day event.
Residents responded to requests for them to drop off their expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications at police stations, pharmacies and other locations.
Statistics about the amount of pills collected Saturday at 6,000 sites across the country, and more than 200 locations across Florida, were not immediately available.
“It seems to have gone well,” said Anne-Judith Lambert, special agent and spokeswoman for the DEA in Miami. “We won’t know the numbers until next week.”
Previous events have yielded a total of over 5,400 tons of drugs, including 457 tons last October, organizers say. Liquids and needles are not accepted.
But the activity is free and anonymous.
The goal is to get the medicines out of homes “where they are vulnerable to misuse, theft, or abuse by family members and visitors; including children and teens,” according to the DEA.
“Keeping our homes free of harmful prescription medication, when no longer needed, is a way of keeping everyone safe,” said Adolphus P. Wright, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Miami Field Division.
Officials say the coordinated collection events also are a safer way for people to discard pills instead of flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the garbage.
It seems to be something that leaders from both major political parties can agree upon.
Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida on Saturday tweeted: “As we continue to fight the opioid crisis in our country this is one small step that you can take.”
And Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, also encouraged people to participate. She tweeted that 70% “of adults who misuse prescription opioids get them from friends or family.”
President Donald Trump said it’s another way to get in front of the nation’s opioid epidemic. “Do your part today by participating in prescription drug #TakeBackDay,” he wrote in a tweet.
If you missed Saturday’s event, check out the website takebackday.dea.gov for information about year-round drop off locations.
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