PLATTSBURGH - Prescription drugs will be taken by local law enforcement agencies as part of the second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day today (Saturday).
The National Take Back Initiative is marking its second year of attempting to take unwanted, unused or expired medications out of potential circulation by those using them for reasons other than their intended purposes.
During a press conference at the local Drug Enforcement Administration office in Plattsburgh Friday, Albany-based DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Burns stated last year's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day was "a resounding success" resulting in the largest drug seizure in history.
"The DEA collected 121 tons of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications," said Burns. "That number is almost unfathomable."
In New York State alone, approximately 7 tons of prescription drugs were collected - nearly a half-ton of that was collected in the North Country, said Burns.
"So, there's quite a bit of this stuff out here," he said.
The reason for the push on the collection of prescription drugs by the DEA and other agencies is because the number of illegal drug busts is increasingly related to those possessing medications that were originally purchased for valid uses.
The drugs end up on the streets after being stolen during home invasions and even by family members of those taking prescription medications, said Burns. More often than most would think, he said, cases involve children swiping medications from their parents or even grandparents by going into their medicine cabinets.
"The vast majority of people 12 years old and older have experimented or are using prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes," said Burns. "Prescription drug abuse has become epidemic in our country."
Regardless of how someone comes across prescription medications not intended for them, their use is against the law, said Burns.
"If the prescription is not for you for a specific medical condition, then it's illegal to be doing it and you're putting yourself at risk not only for legal action, but you're putting your health at risk," he said. "You could die from this."