Austin's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day scheduled for Sept. 29

Austin residents will have the opportunity Sept. 29 to safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescriptions as part of Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

"(The program) allows folks to come, no questions asked, to drop off and get rid of their drugs," Councilwoman Laura Morrison said during a news conference.

Medication drop-off will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m at four locations throughout the city, including the City of Austin Household Hazardous Waste Facility and Barton Creek Square Mall. Additional drop-off locations are available in areas surrounding the city. Other accepted items include over-the-counter medications, vitamins, insulin and needles.

Greg Thrash, Drug Enforcement Administration Austin Office resident agent in charge, said his department has seen a steep rise in illicit prescription drug abuse in recent years.

"The program is for two purposes. One is for safe disposal, and the other is a public awareness campaign," he said. "What we are seeing is almost epidemic proportions of illicit prescription drug use in our country today, particularly among our young people."

The program is a partnership with the City of Austin, the Austin Police Department and the DEA. DEA officials said the program, which started in 2010, has collected about 774 tons of medication in all 50 states as well as U.S. territories. In the Austin area, about 8,000 pounds of medication has been collected since the program began. Thrash said the take-back campaign is aimed at stemming the increase in illegal prescription drug use.

"What we hope will occur as a result of these prescription drug take-back campaigns with our state and local partners, is that we create an atmosphere where we actually reverse that trend of the epidemic that we've been seeing," Thrash said.

Bob Gedert, director of Austin Resource Recovery, said the take-back day is a safe alternative to dispose of medication.

"From an environmental standpoint, it is unsafe to landfill this material, and it is unsafe to flush it down a toilet because of the water impacts and land impacts," he said. "We're trying to find a safe and convenient way to collect this material and safely dispose of this material."

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said he urges all residents to take advantage of the take-back day because of the positive effects it can have on the community.

"The bottom line is, this is about saving lives, protecting our environment and really doing the right thing in terms of being responsible stewards of our communities and our families," he said.

Other drop-off locations in Austin:

Cornerstone Church, 1101 Reinli St.

City of Austin Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 2514 Business Center Drive

University of Texas Student Services Center, 100 W. Dean Keeton St.

Barton Creek Square Mall, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy.

For more information, visit www.dea.gov.