Locals take part in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, experts educate public

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — Boxes and boxes of unused and expired prescription drugs were dropped off Saturday across the nation, and that includes right here in our local counties.

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It’s the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Law enforcement and health officials said they wanted to create safe spaces for people to clear out their cabinets.

Nancy Overton dropped off unwanted medication at Saturday’s event.

“I want to safely dispose of my drugs, and I want to help the environment,” Overton said. “I don’t want to throw them somewhere that would be dangerous.”

Overton said she was relieved to get the unwanted medication off her hands.

“Probably 50-60 bottles -- 2 or 3 years worth,” Overton said.

The event happens twice every year.

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Mike McCormick with Florida Poison Control told Action News Jax that people tend to store and hoard medication.

“You’ve paid for it, and you think you might need it again for the future,” McCormick said. “The reality is you should never reuse medication.”

He said his team sees a lot of poisonings for children under the age of six who get access to medication that is in a medicine cabinet, a kitchen cabinet or on a nightstand near a bed.

McCormick said that the number one cause of poisonings in the state of Florida is analgesics.

That includes over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

“Especially in the childhood poisonings -- most people when they come to the ER they say ‘I just turned my back for one minute,’” McCormick said. “Two-to-five-year-olds are explorers. They’re curious. They’re great climbers, and they can get into things very quickly.”

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He explained that there are several types of poisoning.

“Accidental -- children that get into it and when you get into the elderly sometimes we run into medication mistakes where people double dose themselves or thought they were grabbing one medication but they grabbed a different thing out of the cabinet,” McCormick said.

There is also intentional poisoning: people who use the drugs to get high or to harm themselves.

“You run the gamut from birth to death,” McCormick said. “This is a hazard that is out there. If we stored our medication more safely, and we got rid of it when it was no longer needed -- we would remove this hazard from our homes.”

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One major goal of the national day is to help reduce drug misuse and overdoses.

According to Drug Free Duval, 400 calls are made to 911 for overdoses every month, and that’s in Duval County alone.

“The gateway to the opioid epidemic starts with painkillers, and many times it’s from a pill that was gotten from a friend or a family member,” McCormick said.

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If you couldn’t make it out to events across town, in Jacksonville you can drop off unused prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications at the JSO Police Memorial Building.

That dropbox can be accessed 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

You can also contact your local pharmacy to find out if there’s a dropbox near you.