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Tennesseans Participate in Twentieth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Biannual event encourages safe disposal of medication and protection of water resources
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | 08:34am

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Tennesseans have a renewed opportunity to remove harmful and potentially-addictive prescription medication from their homes as a part of the upcoming 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  The event is ­­­set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 24, 2021.

On Take Back Day, Substance Abuse Prevention Coalitions and other community groups team up with their local law enforcement to host events where anyone can safely and securely dispose of prescription medication that has expired or is no longer needed.  In addition to preventing substance misuse, proper disposal of medication protects Tennessee’s drinking water supply. 

Find a Take Back Day event in your area by visiting this link on TNtogether.com.

This spring’s event is particularly important because the April 2020 Take Back Day was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the amount of medication collected in Tennessee during the October 2020 Take Back Day was about one-third the amount collected in October 2019.  Additionally, pandemic precautions may have limited access to permanent drop boxes which are normally available on-demand.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many patterns of normal daily life, and that includes regular disposal of potentially harmful prescription medication,” said Marie Williams, LCSW, Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  “On this National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, we’re encouraging people to get back in the habit of safely and securely disposing the medications they no longer need.”

Find more resources from the #ResilienTN Campaign at this link

According to national research, about two-thirds of people who misuse or abuse prescription medications obtain them from family or friends.  Prescription drug take back events remove these potentially addictive substances from homes and communities and prevent addiction from happening.  While data from the Department of Health shows Tennessee doctors are prescribing potentially-addictive opioid medications at much lower levels than in recent years, there were still more than 5,000,000 opioid for pain prescriptions filled in 2020.

For free referrals to addiction treatment services, call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789.

“We know most people who get addicted to opioids start with a prescription,” said Tennessee Health Department Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP.  “That is why it is important to properly dispose of your unused prescription drugs, to prevent the unintended consequences of misuse which can lead to addiction and use of other drugs such as fentanyl which are having an outsized impact on drug overdose deaths in our state.” 

“This is an important program for both health and environmental reasons,” David Salyers, TDEC commissioner, said. “It’s a convenient way to rid a household of prescription drugs that are no longer needed, and it keeps those drugs out of our water supply. We are happy to partner with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services on this effort. The partnership helps make this program succeed.”

If you are unable to participate in a Take Back Day event, you can still safely and securely dispose of your prescription medication at one of 355 permanent drop boxes located across the state.  Find a permanent drop box in your area at this link.

In addition to the focus on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the partners behind the #ResilienTN campaign want to remind Tennesseans that our state sees a surprising increase in deaths by suicide in the spring months.  If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the Statewide Crisis Line at 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471) or text “TN” to 741-741.