By Brittany Pieper – email
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – The Drug Enforcement Agency calls it the nation's fasting growing drug problem. Non-medical prescription drug use has increased by 20% since 2002 to about 5.3 million Americans.
In the Ark-La-Tex, law enforcement officers say they see both prescription drug abusers and children accidentally getting a hold of medications. This can also be dangerous and even deadly.
"It happens quite frequently, and that's why we're encouraging citizens to come in, drop off their expired prescriptions or unused prescriptions to prevent that type of situation from occurring," said Chris Harlow with the Shreveport Police Department.
Several local law enforcement agencies held collection points Saturday afternoon as part of National Take Back Day. People could come by and drop off their medications. People brought in bags full of old medications. They hope this will help to cut back on the growing abuse problem because most people, especially teens, get the drugs from family, friends, or their home medicine cabinet.
One national study showed 1 in 5 teens has tried prescription drugs to get high.
Police say many people don't know how to properly dispose of these drugs. They say not flush them, because they can get into water systems, and you shouldn't just throw them away.
"They don't break down. In other words, somebody can still find them, pick them up, and ingest them whether on purpose or accidentally. There's a chance of injury there," said Harlow.
The DEA will burn the drugs from Saturday's take back effort. If you're disposing of drugs at home they ask you take medications out of their bottle and mix them with something unappealing like kitty litter before you throw them away.