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Drug Take Back Day proves successful in South Dakota

Prescription Drugs

South Dakotans turned over hundreds of pounds' worth of old and unused prescription drugs last month during the 21st annual Drug Take Back Day.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement opened 17 collection sites, and South Dakotans disposed of 693 pounds of medications.

The presence of law enforcement was for the security of the site, not to penalize those turning over medications or compromise their anonymity.

After authorities collect the drugs, they incinerate them so they don't end up in water or soil.

The DEA organizes the annual events to provide a convenient opportunity to dispose of prescription medications. Keeping the pills around creates an unintentional opportunity for abuse.

Pills end up in the wrong hands at times because of a good intention, said Emily Murray, public information officer for the DEA Omaha Division.

"The example we give living in a rural area, sometimes you have a neighbor who jumped off a tractor and tweaked their knee. They are complaining about it to a neighbor and they go, 'Oh you know what? I have some leftover medication from when I had back surgery a couple years ago. Let me give this to you, because it helped me,'" Murray said.

"Unfortunately that prescription is not intended for that person who jumped off the tractor and tweaked their knee. There is no prescription tied to that person for that injury, and that can lead to potential abuse and addiction."

The need for safe disposal of prescription drugs doesn't cease after the event. On the Give Back Day website, people can search for a nearby drop-off location. If there is no permanent disposal site nearby, Murray said the Environmental Protection Agency recommends a few solutions.

"Put your pills into a bottle with kitty litter or coffee grounds or some other undesirable source and double bag those, and then go ahead and throw them in the trash," Murray said. "Don't flush it down the toilet. Don't put a liquid down the drain, things like that. That does have the potential to get into water sources."

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction in South Dakota, help is available. Call the free and confidential South Dakota Resource Hotline at 1-800-920-4343