MISSOULA – People all over the United States participated in the National Drug Take Back Day over the weekend.
There were 35 places in Montana alone where people could drop off expired or unused medications for disposal.
Montana US Attorney Alme said the event is the most important step towards preventing opioid abuse.
The UC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 91 people die each day from an opioid overdose in the United States.
Meanwhile, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that high school students here in Montana have begun experimenting with pills they get from relatives or friends.
Many people believe having a safe place to dispose of your prescription drugs will go a long way to helping combat this problem.
People were able to drop off expired and unused prescription medications to be disposed of properly at the Southgate Mall on Saturday.
“We don’t want those drugs out there and just sitting in medicine cabinets when they can be misused and abused or they can be stolen,” explained Missoula Police Department Detective Dean Chrestenson.
“So, it’s good for the community health to have those removed. You know no one wants to be a victim, but unfortunately, we have those drugs in our medicine cabinets and people do take advantage of that sometimes.”
During a similar event in October Montanans turned in 3,470 pounds of pills.
But it’s not just about keeping these pills out of the hands of the people they aren’t prescribed to. It can also pose a risk to your health to keep expired medications on hand.
“With liquid antibiotics, they do go bad after 10 days, so it’s going to be more harmful to your body even if you keep it in the fridge, you properly care for it it still goes bad,” said Kelcey Daily, the co-hair od Generation RX, which is a group run by the School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an expired pill can be much less effective due to changes in chemical composition. Taking these less effective antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and disease.
Montana National Guard Sgt. told MTN News that Saturday’s event was a help, but added that they can never have too much assistance spreading the word about this issue.
“The more support we have the better. It’s an education process as well as an opportunity to turn in these prescription drugs,” Sgt. Bertollt said.
Even though the event is over you can still reach out to your local pharmacy for more information about how to safely dispose of prescription medication.
Reporting by Lauren Heiser for MTN News