Take Back Initiative to collect expired, unused medication

Prescription Drugs

If you have expired or unused prescription medication, here’s your chance to get rid of it safely, no questions asked.

The Department of the Attorney General, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and State Narcotics Enforcement Division, is coordinating the 8th National Take Back Initiative.

The public is encouraged to bring their medications to a collection site on Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sites will be available on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii island.

This service is free and anonymous – no questions asked. Tablets, capsules, and all other solid dosage forms of medication will be accepted. New or used needles and syringes will not be accepted.

According to the DEA and 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, prescription drugs that languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high; more Americans (6.8 million) currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens like LSD, and inhalants (sniffed household products) combined.

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Current federal laws do not provide a way for patients, caregivers and pet owners to dispose of such controlled substance medications such as painkillers, sedatives, tranquilizers and stimulants like ADHD drugs.

Last year, Hawaii collected 4,507 pounds of prescription medications at various collection points on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii.

“In Hawaii, pharmaceutical controlled substances have become a huge problem with our youth,” said Keith Kamita, Chief Special Agent, Narcotics Enforcement Division, Department of Public Safety. “These substances are as strong as or stronger than street drugs and easily obtained from medicine cabinets at home.”

Unused or expired medicine should be disposed of properly when it is no longer needed for the illness for which it was prescribed. Medicines may lose their effectiveness after the expiration date. Improper use of prescription drugs can be as dangerous as illegal drug use.

Having unused and expired medicine in your home increases the risk of accidental poisoning. Homes where children or the elderly live are especially vulnerable to this danger. People may mistake one type of medicine for another type. Children may mistake medicine for candy.

Unused or expired medicine should not be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet. Proper disposal helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering a human water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.

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