Nearly 100 sites in Washington sites join DEA’S nationwide effort
OLYMPIA — The abuse of prescription drugs inflicts a deadly toll in Washington state. Painkillers, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin soothe chronic pain and improve lives. But such painkillers are increasingly abused by those who mix them with other drugs and alcohol or even crush and smoke them for a quick — and sometimes deadly — high. Unused or expired painkillers left in medicine cabinets are contributing to the problem.
Washington residents can help fight drug addiction by safely disposing of their unwanted, unused or expired drugs by visiting a collection site on Sept. 25.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other government, community, public health and law enforcement partners will help the public safely dispose of expired or unused medications. DEA’s National Take-Back Initiative will offer convenient drop-off points in locations throughout the state. This service is free and anonymous.
“If you have expired or unused drugs, we’re asking you to bring them in for proper disposal, no questions asked,” said Mark Thomas, DEA acting special agent in charge. “Taking a few minutes to visit a drop-off point in your neighborhood will greatly reduce the availability of diverted prescription drugs and increase community public safety.”
In 1995, the lives of 23 Washingtonians were lost due to accidental overdoses involving prescription drugs. In 2008, more than 500 people died.
“Most people are surprised to hear that a plastic bottle with their doctor’s name on it can contain something which is deadly when misused,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. “But the word is out about certain prescription drugs. Chronic drug users want them. Teenagers trade, mix and consume them. We’ve even seen stay-at-home moms get hooked and overdose. It’s a full-blown crisis.”
Those with unused or expired medications may check www.dea.gov and search by address or zip code to find the closest collection site. All locations will be open from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Washington State Attorney General’s Office personnel will be on hand at several take-back locations in order to promote the safe disposal and storage of prescription drugs. They’ll urge consumers to check, lock and properly dispose of prescription drugs throughout the year.
While take-back locations will be spread throughout the state and open Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., spokespeople will be available to reporters in the following locations and times:
There will be a brief news conference and media availability at the downtown Seattle drop-off location.
- DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Thomas
- Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna
- Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan
- Safeco Field’s “Home Plate” Parking lot, 1661 First Avenue South, Seattle
- DEA Resident Agent in Charge, Scott Hanten
- AGO Spokane Office Division Chief Toni Ursich
- Washington State University, South Campus Facility: 412 E. Spokane Falls, Blvd., Spokane
DEA spokesman will be available for the duration of the event. Ursich will be available from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- DEA Resident Agent in Charge, Kevin Wilson
- Pierce County Sheriffs Deputy Peter Aloisio
- Julian Bray, Senior Counsel, Tacoma AGO
- Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, South Hill Precinct, Sprinkler Rec Center - 271 John Bananola Way East, Puyallup
DEA, Pierce County and AGO spokespeople will be available for the duration of the event.
- DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Doug James
- AGO Bellingham Section Chief Sarah Reyes
- Washington State Patrol: 3860 Airport Way, Bellingham.
DEA spokesman will be available for the duration of the event. Reyes will be available from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- DEA Group Supervisor, William Hodge
- Assistant Attorney General Dale Becker, Yakima AGO
- 207 S. 3rd Street, Yakima (a parking lot)
Hodge will be available for the duration of the event. AAG Becker will attend from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Kennewick Police Captain Scott Child
- DEA Resident Agent in Charge (RAC), Reinaldo Lopez
- AGO Kennewick Section Chief, Kevin Hartze
- Kennewick Police Department, 211 W. 6th Ave.
Captain Child and RAC Lopez will be available for the duration of the event. Hartze will be available from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
• National take-back initiative (includes a collection site search)
• General prescription drug disposal information from SAMA Foundation
• RxIQ (information about prescription drug abuse)
Jodie Underwood, DEA Special Agent, (206) 553-1162; Mobile: (206) 571-1996
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725
Kristin Alexander, AGO Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432