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Rockdale, Newton sheriffs, DEA host drug Take-Back Initiative

CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office and the Newton County Sheriff's Office will once again be host sites for Georgia's DEA National Take-Back Initiative on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"RCSO and the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs," said RCSO spokesman Investigator Michael Camp. "Bring your medications for disposal to the RCSO Administrative Building lobby at 911 Chambers Drive. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked."

The NCSO will be at Walmart Super Center on Industrial Drive in Covington and will also be accepting unwanted prescription medications. The agency has participated in the program since its inception.

"We consider it a pleasure and a responsibility to participate in the drug Take-Back Initiative," said Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown. "With the growing misuse of prescription drugs, getting those old, out-dated pills out of the medicine cabinet is an important deterrent."

Camp said in September 2012, Americans turned in 488,395 pounds, or 244 tons, of prescription drugs at more than 5,263 sites operated by the DEA, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners across the nation. In the five total Take-Back events held to date, the DEA and its partners have now removed more than 2 million pounds, or 1,018 tons, of prescription medications from circulation.

"This is a great chance to properly dispose of outdated or questionable medications." said Rockdale Sheriff Eric Levett. "I encourage all Rockdale County residents, especially those with children in their homes, to make your house safer by bringing in unwanted or expired prescriptions for proper disposal."

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue, Camp said. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines, such as flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after the first Take-Back event held in 2010, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an "ultimate user" of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents' controlled substances in certain instances.

The DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act, a process that can take as long as 24 months. Until permanent regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug Take-Back events every few months.