Arkansas law enforcement agencies collected more than 24,000 pounds of prescription drug medications in a single day. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that “Arkansans are helping save countless lives” by getting these prescription medications “out of our homes.”
“Studies show that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. with opioid addictions driving this epidemic,” Rutledge said. “I appreciate all the partnering agencies who helped make this prescription drug take back day a success as we continue to fight this growing threat.”
The 24,483 pounds of prescription medications were collected at 200 locations throughout the entire state as part of the semi-annual Prescription Drug Take Back held on Saturday, April 29. This exceeded the previous collection date (October 2016) by 1,000 pounds. Of the 200 locations in the state, 184 of those locations are from facilities with a permanent 24-hour drop-box. All locations can be easily found at www.artakeback.org by left-clicking on the Collection Sites/Events & Dropboxes tab, which includes a Google map and search by Zipcode or Collection Site Name.
“Prescription drug abuse has become the nation’s fastest growing drug epidemic, with almost 4 million Americans addicted prescription painkillers,” said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matt Barden. “Unfortunately, these prescription drugs are most often obtained from friends and family, who leave them in home medicine cabinets. The DEA’s and State of Arkansas’s Take Back initiative provides citizens an easy and safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.”
“I encourage the citizens of Arkansas to please do your part to keep prescription drugs off the streets and help end this national epidemic,” Barden continued.
Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane said that the Arkansas Drug Take Back Day brings education and awareness to communities to utilize the method of “Secure, Monitor, Dispose,” with prescription drugs.
“It is a major tool in reducing deaths from prescription drug abuse and misuse, as we know that 70 percent of prescriptions that are abused come from our homes,” Lane said. “Great partnerships in this effort are a key part of its success, but there is much more work to do. It will take all of us working together to make the difference, and the difference will save lives.”
Rutledge also announced that the early bird registration is now available for the annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit at ArkansasAG.gov. The summit, which was attended last year by more than 700 law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators, gives an opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment. This year the summit will be held in Hot Springs on Nov. 9. A full agenda will be announced at a later date.
“I appreciate the partnership with the Attorney General's Office, the DEA and other supporters involved in this year’s successful Take Back Initiative,” said FBI Little Rock Field Office Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch. “Improper disposal can have a devastating effect on our families and communities, as well as our environment. By taking back 24,000 pounds of prescription drugs, we've taken a step to save the lives of innocent children who accidentally use prescription drugs and the lives of those who abuse prescription drugs.”
Semi-annually a Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.
Event sites are held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. The Attorney General’s office also hosts take back events at mobile offices around the State. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.