Unused drugs collected in national take-back day

Unused or expired prescription medication leads to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse — a public safety issue that the nation tackled Saturday as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration Take-back Day.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams joined the effort with the Arlington Police Department, a leading law enforcement agency in combating the deadly opioid crisis.

Residents filed into the police department throughout the day to drop off their unused prescription medication, which police later transported to an incinerator.

The non-medical use of prescription drugs is the second-most common form of drug abuse in America, according to the DEA.

“We don’t want folks to be someone else’s drug dealer,” said Adams.

“My little brother is actually in prison right now in Maryland due to crimes he committed to support his addiction,” said Adams. “His journey started like many people’s journey — unrecognized anxiety and depression, untreated, that he self-medicated with alcohol, with tobacco, with marijuana. Then he went to a party one day and someone gave him a pill.”

Adams reminded everyone not to dispose of medication by throwing it in the trash or flushing it down the toilet. Drugs thrown in the trash can be retrieved, and medication flushed down the toilet can contaminate the water supply.

Arlington resident Katy Von Mehren, who stopped by the drug collection box to drop off unused medication, said, “I saw it in the paper and knew I had some medication in the house, so I decided to bring it in.”

Arlington Police Department offers 24/7 drug take-back. Capt. Richard Flynn said the department collects about 50 pounds of drugs a week — the majority, narcotics.

“The Arlington PD has led the charge among law enforcement agencies against the opioid epidemic,” said acting police Chief Julie Flaherty.

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