Mass. to hold prescription ‘Take Back Day’ to curb abuse

Massachusetts residents are urged to turn in their unwanted prescription drugs at designated sites on April 26 in a state-wide effort to tame the spike in prescription drug abuse.

At least 170 drop-off sites will be available as part of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

More than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs, more than the combined number who reported abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin, according to the advocacy organization Foundation for a Drug-Free World. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers prescription drug abuse an epidemic.

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In March, Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts in response to the growing number of people who have died from addiction to painkillers.

“It is time for renewed action to end the opiates epidemic that has swept through too many of our communities,” Patrick said in a public statement Monday.

The public can drop off any unused or expired prescription drugs to any of the sites on the 26th between 10a.m. and 2p.m. People who drop off medications will remain anonymous.

A 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that many who report abusing prescription pills got the medication from family members or someone they knew.

“I don’t want to get another call from a mother or a father who is in fear of losing their child, because of a habit that began with pills from a neighbor’s medicine cabinet,” Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh said in a public statement Monday. “If we can get these unneeded drugs out of our neighborhoods, we will be taking a step in the right direction.”

An estimated 17,077 pounds of unused prescription drugs were collected at 157 sites across Massachusetts when the state last implemented a “Take Back Day” in October 2013, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Program.

For a list of local sites accepting prescription pills, check out the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion website.