NEWS | April 24, 2021

Utah National Guard Counterdrug Task Force supported efforts in the DEA’s 20th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

By 2nd Lt. Jesse Hudson Utah National Guard

On April 24, 2021, the Utah National Guard Counterdrug Task Force partnered with communities across Utah to support efforts in the DEA’s 20th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

            According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019. The survey also showed that a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Nationwide, almost a million pounds were collected in April with the assistance of Take-Back efforts and drug-drop boxes, proving that Americans are dedicated to removing prescriptions and other medications from their homes and communities to prevent substance misuse before it starts.

            During the last six months, the Utah National Guard Counterdrug Task Force worked extensively to provide information, resources and training to drug prevention coalitions to increase participation and enhance local abilities to mobilize a successful Take-Back Day within their communities. Over the past few years, the public has embraced Take-Back Day events due to easy, no-cost opportunities to remove prescription drugs within the home that may be susceptible to misuse and theft. Ensuring secure drug disposal has also resulted in a significant increase in year-round, drug-drop boxes found at law enforcement facilities, fire stations and pharmacies helping drug disposal be more convenient and accessible to the public.

            The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. Last October, the Utah National Guard Counterdrug Task Force supported the Kearns community in a drive-thru Take-Back Day, collecting 70 pounds of prescription drugs. This April, the number of supported communities grew throughout the state to include 14 coalitions, ranging as far south as San Juan County, to Cache County in the north. Overall, Take-Back Day events in Utah collected more than 12,600 pounds of unused, expired, and unwanted medications. With the efforts of the Utah National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, Utah also saw an increase of community partnerships, with 43 law enforcement agencies participating in October 2020, to 55 law enforcement agencies participating in April 2021, as well as collection sites statewide with 44 collection sites in October 2020, to 57 collection sites in April 2021. On April 24, communities directly supported by the Utah National Guard Counterdrug Task Force collected a combined total of 1,352.78 pounds of prescription drugs, contributing to the amassed 197,306 pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications in Utah since the inception of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative in 2010.

            The Utah National Guard Counterdrug Task Force works year-round assisting local communities with anti-drug education and local outreach on the hazards of drug dependency and misuse through reinforcing evidence-based, proven programs and community partnerships.