The 20and National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday at multiple locations across the state from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event provides a safe and convenient way to dispose of leftover medications while educating the public about the potential for abuse.
In Florida, 2.56% of all deaths are caused by drug overdoses, and Florida’s drug overdose death rate is 23.2% higher than the national average, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families. and the Florida Association of Managing Entities, which represents nonprofit organizations that oversee state and federal behavioral health systems.
“Disposing of prescription drugs properly is a simple way to prevent accidental overdoses in young children and keep them out of the reach of teens who might misuse them,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “By simply checking cabinets to make sure old medicines are properly disposed of, you can save not only the lives of your own children, but also the lives of members of your community.
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the country has seen an increase in opioid-related mortality. Additionally, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency says the majority of opioid addictions start with prescription pills found in medicine cabinets.
Dr. Jodie Graves, director of pharmacy at HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital, said access to home medications is a major source of unintentional pediatric poisonings. Every year, about 6,000 emergency room visits nationwide are linked to children under age 6 taking medication.
“It’s affecting families and it’s affecting families like mine, and it’s affecting families like yours,” Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers said at a press conference Tuesday. “And I think we all have a story that we can tell that’s similar to that. It’s personal to me, and I’d love to see everyone in the community help clean up those medicine cabinets.
National Prescription Drug Recovery Day in November removed nearly 745,000 pounds of unnecessary drugs, according to the DEA.
Beyond National Recovery Day, there are opportunities to safely dispose of drugs at pharmacies, hospitals, police departments and throughout the year, according to the DEA.
Click here to locate a drop off location in Florida.
What is accepted? Prescription drugs, Schedules II-V controlled substances and non-controlled drugs. Drop sites aren’t just for opioids: you can drop all prescription drugs, including antibiotics.
What is not accepted? Illegal drugs (Schedule I), needles/syringes/sharp containers, medical devices/batteries, aerosols/inhalers, chemicals, mercury-containing devices, radioactive drugs, and liquid chemotherapy drugs.
Rick Mayer of Health News Florida contributed to this report.