BOISE - The rate at which Americans are abusing prescription drugs continues to rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 people die each day in the United States from an opioid overdose.
In recent years the Drug Enforcement Agency has stepped up efforts to get unused prescription drugs out of your house and, therefore, out of the hands of those who may abuse them.
An event happening this weekend is aimed to do just that. This Saturday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. At 17 sites around southern Idaho and eastern Oregon you can drop off your unused prescription drugs.
The DEA tries to do this twice a year. Last April the agency collected nearly 2 tons of medications from sites around Idaho and more than 17.5 tons across the Northwest. In 13 previous Take Back days the DEA has taken in more than 8 million pounds of prescription drugs.
A recent study showed nearly 6.5 million Americans have abused prescription drugs, and that same study said a majority of those abusers got the drugs from family and friends, and often from a medicine cabinet.
Experts say more people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of prescription drugs than with any other substance and those stats are reflected in Idaho.
"Maybe not as bad as other parts of the country but it certainly can be if we don't do something about it and prevention is where that comes in," says Rob Steveson with Drug Free Idaho. "Last year we collected just over 1100 pounds of medications, so there's a lot of medications sitting in people's house right now."
Stevenson stresses prevention is the best way to get a handle on the opioid epidemic and it's certainly cheaper than the cost of treatment.
The Take Back event is free and completely anonymous, no questions asked. They ask that you do not bring liquids or needles, only pills or patches.
For a list of locations where you can take your unused prescription medications click here.