In an effort to combat abuse of prescription drugs, local law enforcement agencies want residents to drop off expired or unwanted pills at several sites Saturday.
The program is part of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take Back initiative, which encourages people to drop off medication anonymously and for free.
Residents can discard of pills and controlled substances between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Insulin, illegal drugs, syringes and medical waste will not be accepted.
Flushing unwanted medication down the toilet or throwing it away can pose health and safety risks, according to the DEA.
“Prescription drug abuse is just as dangerous as taking illicit drugs and now ranks second to marijuana as the most abused class of drugs in the United States,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes said.
Two-and-a half times more people abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined, according to last year’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
At the last Drug Take Back Day in April, Washington state collected about eight tons of unused and unwanted medicine. Americans turned in 376,593 pounds (188 tons).
The first National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was held in September 2010. Many agencies have set up year-round collection boxes.
Tacoma police are not participating in Saturday’s program but has collection boxes at its headquarters building (3701 S. Pine St.) and four substations (1524 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, 5140 N. 26th St., 1501 S. 72nd St. and 400 E. 56th St.)