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SALT LAKE CITY — Law enforcement agencies across Utah will take part Saturday in the National Prescription Drug Take Back event.
The program provides an annual opportunity for people to safely dispose of unwanted or expired medications. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, anyone can drop off prescription medications at sites around the state.
The goal of the program is to reduce the amount of unwanted or expired medications that end up in the hands of prescription drug abusers. Utah has the eighth-highest drug overdose mortality rate in the nation, according to a 2013 report by the Trust for America's Health.
Researchers compared mortality rates for 1999 and 2010, finding that Utah had seen a 59 percent increase in drug-related deaths during that 11-year period.
"Prescription drugs can be a miracle for many, but misuse can have dire consequences," Trust for America's Health executive director Jeffrey Levi said when the study was released in October.
"The rapid rise of abuse requires nothing short of a full-scale response, starting with prevention and education, all the way through to expanding and modernizing treatment," Levi said.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration held its first National Prescription Drug Take Back event eight years ago because the Controlled Substances Act "didn’t provide a way for patients, caregivers and pet owners to dispose of … painkillers, sedatives, tranquilizers and stimulants."
People often resorted to throwing pills in the trash, where they might be retrieved by drug abusers, or flushing them down the toilet, where they would pollute the nation's water supply.
In 2013, Americans turned in 647,211 pounds of expired or unwanted medications for disposal at the 5,683 take-back sites around the nation, according to the DEA. During the program's entire existence, the DEA says it has worked with state, local and tribal agencies to take 3.4 million pounds of prescription drugs out of circulation.
To find the prescription drug drop-off site nearest to you, visit the National Prescription Drug Take Back website or call 800-882-9539.