National Drug Take-Back Day event Saturday


Local law enforcement agencies will hold no-questions-asked prescription drug disposal events at several New River Valley locations on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pills and patches will be accepted, but not sharp objects such as needles and syringes. The service is free, anonymous and environmentally safe.

“Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S., across the Commonwealth and in southwest Virginia,” said Noelle Bissell, MD, director, New River Health District. “Prescription drugs are especially susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Flushing them down the toilet poses potential health concerns, so we encourage residents to clean out their medicine cabinets and dispose of these potentially dangerous controlled substances in a safe and anonymous way.”

Collection sites in the New River Valley include:

  • Blacksburg – Blacksburg Recreation Center parking lot, 725 Patrick Henry Drive

  • Christiansburg – CVS Pharmacy parking lot, 550 North Franklin St.

  • Floyd – Floyd County Sheriff’s Office main entrance, 100 Main St.

  • Pearisburg – King Johnson Community Center, 1410 Wenonah Ave.

  • Pulaski – Food City parking lot, 1400 Bob White Blvd.

  • Radford (two locations)

  1. Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center (inside), 300 Jefferson St.
  2. Radford Fire Department parking lot, 1500 Wadsworth St.
  • Riner – Riner Fire Department parking lot, 4171 Riner Road

On Nov. 21, 2016, State Health Commissioner Marissa Levine, MD, MPH, declared a public health emergency in Virginia due to rapid increases in rates of overdoses and overdose deaths. On average, three Virginians die of a drug overdose and more than two dozen are treated in emergency departments for drug overdoses each day.

Emergency department visits for heroin overdoses increased 89 percent in the first nine months of 2016, compared to 2015. In the first six months of 2016 fatal drug overdoses increased 35 percent, compared to the same period in 2015.

Fatal opioid overdoses were on pace to reflect a 77 percent increase compared to five years ago. Dr. Levine also noted the presence of Carfentanil in Virginia. This synthetic opioid is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, 100 times more potent than fentanyl and could significantly increase opioid overdose death rates.

The 13th annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is a collaborative effort of state and local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Last year, Virginians disposed of more than 22,000 pounds (11 tons) of prescription drugs at more than 200 collection sites. Nationally, more than 366 tons of drugs were turned in at 5,000-plus sites in 2016. Since its inception, National Drug Take-Back Day has taken more than seven million pounds (more than 3,500 tons) of drugs out of homes and off the street.

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— Submitted by Robert Parker