Colorado now has a permanent drug take-back program to combat prescription drug abuse

The Colorado Department of Health and the Environment announced Monday the launch of their permanent drug take-back program.

The DEA introduced Drug Take Back Day to educate about prescription drug abuse. (Neur0nz/Flickr)
The DEA introduced Drug Take Back Day to educate about prescription drug abuse. (Neur0nz/Flickr)
The DEA introduced Drug Take Back Day to educate about prescription drug abuse. (Neur0nz/Flickr)

The Colorado Department of Health and the Environment announced Monday the launch of their permanent drug take-back program.

Instead of waiting for Drug Enforcement Agency-sponsored events or using mail-in envelopes from selected primary care providers, Coloradans can now dump their unwanted medications any day at selected locations throughout the state.

“Prescription medication misuse and overdose numbers continue to climb, especially among youth. One simple thing we can all do to help is to dispose of our medications responsibly,” Department Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wolk said in a statement. “And it has the added benefit of protecting our water and environment.”

What’s the demand for such a program?

According to the CDPHE, the average American household has four pounds of medication, both prescription and over-the-counter, lying around the house.

If improperly disposed of, that medication runs the risk of polluting the environment, via flushing or discarding, or inviting abuse. Close to 38 percent of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from their parents’ medicine cabinets.

During the last national drug take-back day in October 2016, the DEA collected 731,269 pounds, or about 366 tons, of medication — 17,951 pounds of that came from Colorado. And Denver alone contributed more than 1,000 pounds to the state total, according to Greg Fabisiak, environmental integration coordinator of the drug take-back program.

Fabisiak said the health department has been periodically establishing drop off locations throughout the past few months and now tallies 42 locations in 24 counties, state-wide. By the end of 2017, CDPHE hopes to have at least one drop-off location in all 64 counties.

Most medications are accepted at drop-off locations with the exception of marijuana products, chemotherapy medication and used needles.

For an interactive map of drug drop off locations, visit CDPHE’s website.

For needle exchange information, visit HRAC.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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