One in three Missouri families have been affected by the opioid crisis that is sweeping the nation. As these families and the country have learned, opioid addiction does not discriminate. No matter your age, your gender, or where you live chances are the opioid crisis has touched you or someone you know. Each day 115 people lose their lives to opioid overdoses in the United States – a reality that is as staggering as it is heartbreaking.
In Congress we continue working on solutions to this important problem. Most recently, Congress appropriated $3.3 billion to address the opioid and mental health crisis. With a renewed focus at both the state and federal levels of government, I am hopeful that we will be able to make a real difference in combatting this epidemic.
While the government has a responsibility to get this problem under control, we can all do our part to minimize the number of drugs in our communities. On Saturday, April 28th, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will hold a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, providing an opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted or unneeded prescription medicines.
I’m sure many of us have unused prescriptions in the back of the medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, too often these unused prescription drugs inadvertently find their way into the wrong hands. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans reported abusing prescription drugs. In many cases they did so by gaining access to drugs prescribed to someone else. Whether through illegal sales, robbery, or digging through their neighbors’ trash, people suffering from addiction are finding opioids. That’s why Take-Back Day is a great opportunity to ensure everyone is handling their unused prescription drugs responsibly and keeping them out of the hands of children, teens, and addicts.
The last Take-Back Day was held in October 2017 with incredible turnout across the country. In just one day, 5,321 collection sites had 4,274 law enforcement officers participate. In just one day, they collected 912,305 pounds of prescription drugs. That’s right, 456 tons of prescription drugs were safely disposed of instead of lingering in the community.
Should you have some expired or unused prescription drugs, I hope you will participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this year, and please spread the word! We must ensure prescription drugs are not misplaced, stolen, or misused in order to keep those around us safe. Please visit takebackday.dea.gov to locate a collection site near you.