Event gathers unused prescription medicines

KINGMAN - More people abuse prescription drugs than abuse cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens combined, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

With that in mind, the Drug Enforcement Administration will hold its sixth Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in the past 30 months from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Joining the DEA are its state, local, tribal and community partners.

The service is free and anonymous. Any person who wants to rid their home of potentially dangerous, expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs can drop them off at several locations across Arizona.

In the Kingman area, including Golden Valley, residents can turn in their unwanted prescription drugs to the Department of Public Safety building at 2319 E. Andy Devine Ave.

There have been five take-back events in the past 30 months.

The program was popular at its inception and more people participate each time.

"Arizonans responded overwhelmingly to DEA's five previous Take-Back Day events, disposing of over 35,000 pounds of pharmaceutical drugs in the past two years," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. "We know that young people consider controlled-substance prescription drugs like vicodin to be a safer way to get high, but they couldn't be more wrong. By removing unwanted prescription drugs from their homes, the public helps prevent experimentation, addiction, overdose and even death."

According to a report from the Arizona Substance Abuse Partnership that was published last July, more than 10 million prescriptions - a total of 476 million pills - were prescribed in Arizona in 2011. About 50 percent of those prescriptions were for pain relievers and hydrocodone and oxycodone accounted for 85 percent of them

Among Arizona adults, just 11 percent reported prescription drug misuse in 2011. In just a year the number increased to 50 percent who reported abusing prescription drugs in the past year.

Of those, 47 percent said they misused pain relievers. Thirty-two percent said they abused sedatives and just 3.3 percent said they abused stimulants.

The highest rate of misuse for current abusers is among adults between the ages of 60 and 69.

In 2010, nearly 1,200 people died of drug overdoses, a 22.2 percent increase over the years 2006 to 2010. While 52.5 percent of emergency room costs in 2010 were paid for by AHCCCS/Medicaid, the Centers for Disease Control estimates emergency room visits in the U.S. that are due to overdose costs health insurers more than $72 billion annually.

While robbery and other thefts from pharmacies are on the rise, the overwhelming majority of prescription abusers get their drugs from friends and family, according to the DEA.

For information on drop-off sites outside of the Kingman area, log on to www.dea.gov and click on the "Got Drugs?" icon.