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‘You’re just gambling with your life’: DEA urges public to drop off unused medication Saturday

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — The Drug Enforcement Administration is asking for the public’s help in preventing opioid overdoses. The DEA is hosting its biannual Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.

The public is encouraged to drop off any unused or unwanted prescription medications at various collection sites in the Borderland. During the pandemic, many sites will allow individuals to drive up and hand prescriptions through their car windows. No questions will be asked.

The DEA urges the public to take advantage of these sites because it can be dangerous to throw pills in the trash, since others can find them. It can also be dangerous to leave prescription drugs in a medicine cabinet unless they are under lock and key. 

“More addictions to these powerful opioids start with a prescription medicine, from a medicine that was diverted from a cabinet,” said Carlos Briano, spokesperson for the DEA. “I ask people all the time, ‘If you have a prescription currently, would you know if one or two pills were missing from your bottle?’ I don't think any of us count how many are in there or how many we have left. It’s very easy for someone to divert it, a relative or a friend.”

More than 87,000 Americans died after a drug overdose in a yearlong period that ended in September. It’s the highest number since the 1990’s. 

Briano said more young people are experimenting with prescription drugs during the pandemic since they are spending more time at home, and many might be experiencing new feelings of anxiety or depression. He said many people might assume prescription medications are safe because they are given by a medical professional, but many fail to understand prescriptions are written with specific individuals in mind.

“The medical professional has taken all that into account,” Briano said. “When it's diverted to someone else that weighs less or is older or taking other medications, you're just gambling with your life.”

Several locations in the Borderland will host collection sites, including Franklin High School and UTEP. You can visit this website to find the closest collection site to you. The DEA also offers year-round collection at select sites for those unable to attend Saturday’s event. 

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.


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