OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- During the past eight years, more than nine million pounds of expired, unwanted or unused prescription medications have been collected by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
That collection effort continued Saturday, when agencies across Kansas City took part in Drug Take Back Day.
In 2016, roughly 64,000 Americans died from drug-related deaths, with more than half the deaths attributable to heroin and prescription opioids, according to the NIDA.
Nationwide, the public has been embracing the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft.
"Mainly it's because of the opioid crisis we're suffering right now," said Michael Hattaway, Chief Pharmacist at Swope Health.
Once in the spring and again in the fall, the DEA hosts a Drug Take Back Day. Hattaway says the current opioid and pill crisis could support more than just two days a year.
"When you have these medications sitting around, unused, on your kitchen shelf or your medicine cabinet, there's a chance for somebody who is a child to get into them or somebody to steal them," said Hattaway.
According to Safe Med LA , nearly 70 percent of people who misuse or abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend or family member.
"I think most of the medications are stolen out of the household by family members or friends or acquaintances that come over and they're snooping through the medicine cabinet and they see something they like," said Hattaway.
In Overland Park alone, 1,745 pounds of prescription drugs were collected on Saturday.
"Those numbers are really outstanding numbers and it lets us know that the community is bringing their drugs and unwanted prescription medication into us and that's what we want, we want them to continue to do that," said Officer John Lacy, Overland Park Police.
Since 2011, Overland Park has collected 18,773 pounds.
attaway said because the drug take-backs are only twice a year, it's best to flush any unused, unwanted or expired opioid as soon as possible. He also suggests throwing them away, but not by themselves.
"Putting the medication in there and putting something unpalatable in there like cat litter, used coffee grounds," said Hattaway.
Last fall, the DEA collected 912,000 pounds of prescription drugs on Drug Take Back Day.
If you have medications you'd like to get rid of, they can be dropped off at the Overland Park Police Department year-round.