Prescription Drug Abuse and DEA-Sanctioned Drug Take-Back Events: Characteristics and Outcomes in Rural Appalachia

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Proper disposal of controlled substance medications, a legally gray area since the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 was passed, has received renewed attention in recent years because of an increase in deaths related to opioid pain reliever (OPR) overdoses and increased nonmedical use of OPRs.1,2 Prescription drug take-back events have been organized under the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to properly dispose of controlled substance medications; to decrease prescription medication diversion, abuse, and accidental poisonings; and to decrease environmental hazards resulting from improper medication disposal. The DEA has reported pounds of medications in aggregate donated at take-back events but has not examined the extent to which OPRs are being donated at these events.3 We analyzed the characteristics of donors and medications donated at 11 take-back events in rural Appalachia, an area struggling with disproportionately high rates of OPR nonmedical use and abuse.