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Arkansas to host Prescription Drug Take Back Day

pills fall into the disposal receptacle at a Pennsylvania police station as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in 2012.
Keith Srakocic
NPR News
Pills fall into the disposal receptacle for expired drugs at a Pennsylvania police station as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in 2012.

The 23rd semiannual Arkansas Prescription Drug Takeback Day is taking place Saturday. The event is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Human Services in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration and law enforcement agencies.

People are encouraged to give unused and unneeded medications at 36 locations around the state. The drugs will then be incinerated.

The aim of these event is to get stray prescription drugs out of people’s houses where they can be abused. The event also encourages people not to flush drugs in toilets because they can contaminate the water supply.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Arkansas is second in opioid dispensing rates, after Alabama. However, Arkansas is not in the top ten of states for overdose deaths.

Tenesha Barnes, substance abuse prevention director for the Department of Human Services, says local take back events were borne out of this discrepancy. She wondered how many unused prescription drugs were sitting in people’s homes and cabinets.

Arkansas’ take back program was started in September 2010. The state also has 316 boxes where people can to toss in their unused drugs. Since its inception, the program has collected 221 tons of unused medicine.

At first, the program had only 10 secure lock boxes across the state.

Saturday's drug take back day will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Law enforcement will not ask anyone where they got the drugs. Locations can be found on the artakeback.org.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.