05/06/2011 01:00 pm ET | Updated Jul 06, 2011

Prescription Drug Take Back: 14,000 Pounds Of Pills Collected In Colorado

Under the guidance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 100 national and regional law enforcement agencies began collecting old or unused prescription drugs in the last weekend of April as part of their massive Take Back campaign. The program has turned into a huge success with a total 14,114 pounds of prescription drugs collected in Colorado alone.

The collection allowed citizens to drop off their expired or unwanted prescription medications that were gathering dust in their homes. The Take Back campaign was created to not just keep over-the-counter drugs out of the hands of addicts but also for the environment since the pills or fluids can eventually seep into the ground water if simply thrown in the garbage.

From CBS Denver:

“We would hate for pets to get into medication or people that are looking for specific medications going through someone’s trash and taking them,” Dr. Sarah Anderson with the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy said.
“There’s more deaths right now attributed to prescription drug abuse that’s not prescribed for you than cocaine, heroin and meth combined,” Special Agent David Schiller with the Drug Enforcement Administration said.

There are more drug overdoses and accidental deaths caused by prescription drugs than widely recognized, as the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, in 2009 prescription drugs claimed the lives of more than double the amount of deaths caused by drunk driving.

Colorado was not the sole focus of the Take Back initiative, as The Denver Post reports, the DEA collected more than 22,000 pounds of prescription drugs across Wyoming, Utah, Montana and Colorado.

From The Denver Post:

"The Prescription Drug Take-Back program allowed the public to dispose of unused medications safely," said Kevin R. Merrill, DEA acting special agent in charge. "Our citizens who participated in this national event may have saved the life of a loved one. We should all be grateful for their participation, as well as the participation of our event partners who worked Saturday in service to our communities."