Tennessee American Water, Hamilton County Coalition & Others Announce Upcoming Drug Take Back

Chattanooga, Tenn. (October 13, 2021) –The Bi-Annual National Drug Take Back will be held on Saturday, October 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time zone. The event provides residents the opportunity to rid their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted medications.   Residents may simply drive to a Drug Take Back location, where a law enforcement or volunteer wearing masks will take the medications for proper disposal.

The service which is free and anonymous helps to prevent misuse and abuse of medications while protecting local water sources.  Collected medications are incinerated, which is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal.  Flushing medications down the toilet and throwing them in the trash are discouraged.

“It’s important for us to keep these items out of landfills and water supplies. Through these efforts we are not only helping protect our water sources but also our community from the consequences of drug abuse,” said Kitty Vaughn, Tennessee American Water Supervisor of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), medicines left in home cabinets are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse. The Tennessee Department of Health reported a 33% increase for 2020 of nonfatal opioid overdoses compared to March-June 2019.  The April 2020 Drug Take Back was canceled due to the pandemic and only 1,003 pounds of medications were collected during the October 2020 event, compared to nearly 3000 pounds collected in 2019.  

Reported opioid overdose rates increased significantly during the pandemic,” said Camilla Bibbs, Executive Director of the Hamilton County Coalition.   “We encourage residents to take advantage of the Drug Take Back to continue the trend of increasing collection of medication for proper disposal and to help reduce opportunities that could lead to overdose.”

Participating counties include Hamilton, Bradley, Sequatchie, Rhea and Grundy.  Two locations in Hamilton County will offer free shredding of personal documents to help prevent identify theft. The Walgreens on Gunbarrel Road and the Mount Canaan Church on Highway 58 will have shred trucks available at no cost to residents.  For a complete list of sites, visit the Hamilton County Coalition’s website, hccoalition.org.

Since 2017, 93 tons of medications has been collected across Tennessee over eight National Drug Take Back Days.  The Tennessee Department of Health maintains a Drug Overdose data dashboard which can be accessed here and provides statistics by county.

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