With opioid overdose deaths increasing during the pandemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announces its 20th Take Back Day is scheduled for April 24.

At its last Take Back Day in October, DEA collected a record-high amount of expired, unwanted and unused prescription medications, with the public turning in close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs. With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, clearing out unused medicine is essential.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has seen an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 83,544 Americans overdosing during the 12-month period ending July 1, 2020, the most ever recorded in a 12-month period. The increase in drug overdose deaths appeared to begin prior to the COVID-19 health emergency but accelerated significantly during the first months of the pandemic.

On April 24, the Chillicothe VA Suicide Prevention and Safety Services will be collecting veterans' unused, unwanted or unneeded medications in an effort to reduce risk factors such as medication abuse, accidental overdose and suicide. This event will provide veterans or family members a drive-thru drop-off opportunity to remove these medications from their homes.

Items are to be pre-bagged in either quart or gallon-sized, clear, sealed bags. Acceptable drop-off items include controlled substance prescriptions (including narcotics), non-controlled substance prescriptions and over the counter (non-prescription) drugs. Illegal drugs, needles or other sharps objects, inhalers, aerosolized containers, liquid nutritional items or medical supplies will not be accepted. The event will be held at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center Campus located at 17273 state Route 104, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., rain or shine, in the Building 31 drop-off lane.

Helping people dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way the Chillicothe VA and DEA are working to reduce addiction and stem overdose deaths.

Learn more about the event and other drop off locations at www.deatakeback.com or by calling 800-882-9539.

For more information about services and programs offered at the Chillicothe VA, visit www.va.gov/chillicothe, or follow the VA on Facebook (facebook.com/ChillicotheVAMC) and Twitter (@chillicothevamc).

Veterans not enrolled in the VA healthcare system are encouraged to visit www.chillicothe.va.gov/enrollment.asp to register or call 740-772-7170 with questions.