Drug Take Back Events and Emergency Department Admissions in Northeast Tennessee: an Ecological Analysis

Document Type


Publication Date



Drug poisoning due to overdose is a major health problem in Tennessee. In TN there has been an increase of 210% in accidental overdose deaths since 1999 to 2010. About 80% of drug poisonings in Tennessee were either accidental or self-inflicted. Also as indicated by the CDC in 2010 enough drugs were prescribed to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month and the vast amount of drugs increases the risk of misuse. Drug Take Back Events are a useful measure for reducing the number of prescription medications kept in the households. However, the extent to which these events have affected in the reduction of drug poisoning is not well known. The objective of this study was to investigate the relation between the total number of drugs collected at Take Back Events and emergency department admissions due to overdose in three Counties in Northeast TN.

In partnership with Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement, drop box donations for controlled substances (CS) were analyzed for Washington, Carter and Sullivan County, Tennessee, from 2009 to 2012. Data were obtained from Tennessee Department of Health on number of emergency department (ED) admissions due to overdose based on International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9 codes occurred between 2009 and 2012 in the above-mentioned counties. Linear forecast trend-line method was used to evaluate associations between the amount of controlled substances collected via donation boxes and number of ED visits occurred during 2009-12. Furthermore Pearson’s correlation analyses were conducted to investigate relationship between drop box donations and ED admissions due to overdose.

From 2009 – 2012 the ED visits shows a significant decrease as the amount of drugs collected increases for Washington and Carter County. Also a negative correlation is seen between the ED visit and drugs collection for Washington and Carter County with R2 values of -0.96 and -0.90 respectively. However the same is not true for Sullivan County as the trend was not inversely proportional and also the correlation between ED visits and gathered drugs is low with R2 value of -0.562. These results quantify the potential impact of drug take back events on reduction in drug poisoning due to overdose in Northeast Tennessee. Further study is required to examine the effect of the events on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and misuse.


Chicago, IL

This document is currently not available here.