The Saco Police Department at 20 Storer St. and Saco Community Center at 75 Franklin St., the Biddeford Public Works Department at 371 Hill St. and the Old Orchard Beach Police Department 16E Emerson Cummings Blvd. are among a number of Maine locations that are participating in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Unused prescription drugs that collect in our homes can fall into the wrong hands, creating unintended gateways to opioid addiction. Properly disposing of unused drugs is one way we can each do our part to combat the opioid epidemic, particularly as Maine has seen a concerning increase in drug abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maine’s U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “Maine is one of the top 10 states that have disposed the most prescriptions through the DEA’s Drug Take-Back Program. We are confident that our state will continue to lead efforts to stop the misuse of unused drugs that pose a serious threat to our communities.”

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. In 2020, the collection sites began accepting vaping devices and associated substances.

At a previous Take-Back Event in October 2020, federal, state, and local government entities took back more than 985,000 pounds of unused, expired, or unwanted drugs at more than 4,500 locations across the United States. Over the course of the program, more than 14.6 million pounds of prescription drugs have been safely collected across the country, including more than 450,000 pounds of medication in Maine alone.

Federal regulations allow pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and other authorized collectors to serve as collection points for unused prescription medication. In 2014, following a bipartisan effort led by Senators Collins and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the Department of Justice granted the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs the ability to participate in prescription drug take-back programs at DoD and VA facilities. This initiative has helped to address the role of prescription drug abuse in many military and veteran suicides.

In 2018, a sweeping opioids package known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was signed into law. Senator Collins, a member of the Senate Health Committee, authored two provisions included in the final legislation that will help to ensure that unused prescription drugs do not fall into the wrong hands and to bolster peer support networks for long-term recovery. The legislation also included provisions championed by Senator Collins and Senator King to expand opioid treatment capabilities, including a permanent authorization for nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to medication-assisted treatment and removing an arbitrary limit to allow residential treatment facilities to expand their efforts to save lives.

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