Saturday marks National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
Drug Take Back Day is aimed at preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting. Officials say often times people begin exploring with prescription drugs at home.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says in 2019, there were 53 overdose deaths reported in San Luis Obispo County. That number went up to 103 deaths in 2021.
“In San Luis Obispo, overdose numbers have unfortunately been going up, overdose death numbers," said DEA Special Agent Bill Bodner.
Officials say properly getting rid of unwanted, unused and expired medication is so important.
“As a pharmacist, I would not recommend that you take expired medication. There’s a reason why the manufacturer has an expiration date. Sometimes the potency of the medicine decreases," said Best Care pharmacist Cherie Lamson.
Pharmacists recommend putting current medications in the front of your cabinet and checking for expired medications monthly or at least every six months. The way these medications are disposed of is also important. Dumping into the trash or even flushing them down the toilet is not the answer.
“That’s not the safest thing to do. They end up at landfills, they leech into the groundwater. In some communities there have been studies that some trace - trace amounts, of course - of these drugs end up in drinking water because of improper disposal," said Bodner.
That’s why the DEA is encouraging the community to take part in the Drug Take Back event on Saturday or look for other safe drop-offs.
“Every single pharmacy in San Luis Obispo County has a system they will either have a drop box or will give you an envelope so you can mail it out," said pharmacy technician Tanya Tapia.
The last time this event was held was October 2021. According to the DEA, 744,082 pounds of drugs were collected, with California contributing 41,970 pounds.
CHP San Luis Obispo will be hosting a drop off-site for community members to safely dispose of old or unused medication. The drop-off event is anonymous and community members are encouraged to keep the drugs in their containers.
It will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 at 675 California Boulevard in San Luis Obispo.