DETROIT (WWJ) – Around 450 tons of unwanted prescription drugs were turned in nationwide during the 13th Annual Drug Take Back Day, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Rich Isaacson with the DEA says over 20,000 pounds of drugs were tuned in Michigan alone, in just a four-hour time-frame on April 29.

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“And of the 13 take-back initiatives that the DEA has hosted across the country since 2010, that’s the most we’ve ever brought in in Michigan,” he said.

[View the collection data]

The point of the program: To get potentially dangerous medications out of people’s medicine cabinets and off the streets.

“We’re in the midst of an opiate epidemic here, across the country, and Michigan is no exception,” Issacson told WWJ’s Brian Larson.

“When people are anonymously surveyed — the people that misuse prescription drugs and opiate painkillers in particular…will tell us that the most common way that they get their hands on prescription drugs that they misuse are from their friends and families.”

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He said it’s important for people to understand that around 80 percent of all heroin users got their start by misusing prescription drugs.

“So, in a very large way, the non-medical use of these prescription painkillers are driving the current heroin epidemic which is leading to huge amounts of overdose deaths across the country and in Michigan,” Issacson  said.

The take back events were held at more than 5,000 sites nationwide and at over 200 sites in Michigan. Drugs can be turned in anonymously, no questions asked.

“This is one great way that the everyday person can help try to help fight the opiate epidemic in a smell way,” Issacson said. “…The end results is they get incinerated in EPA facilities.”

The DEA hosts these events twice a year, put on another national take back day on October 28. Details, when available, will be posted at this link. Many police and sheriff’s departments have drug take back boxes in their lobbies, 24-7, all year long.

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