About 46,000 Americans die each year from deaths related to drugs. More than half of these deaths are from heroin or prescription opiates, and 80% of new heroin users start their addiction with prescription painkillers.
The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.5 million Americans were abusing controlled prescription drugs. This study also found that users obtain most of the drugs that are abused from friends and family and that the home medicine cabinet is a significant source of these drugs. Thus, the DEA strongly promotes efforts to collect unwanted drugs from US citizens.
President Obama urged Americans to take part in this program during his weekly address. The program allows people to drop off unwanted drugs with no questions asked at collection sites in their community. In the most recent drug take-bake back program, federal, state, and local law enforcement across the country collected more than 702,365 pounds of unwanted, unused, or expired drugs at more than 5,000 collections sites. More than 3,800 agencies were involved in these efforts.
This was the tenth such event since September 2010, and these efforts are a significant part of the strategy for preventing drug abuse that is spearheaded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiatives have collected 5,525,021 pounds of drugs over the years.
The President’s 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan called for drug disposal programs to be enacted across the country. In addition, this plan includes increasing education for prescribers, pursuing “Smart on Crime” enforcement, and expanding Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.