BATON ROUGE, La. – At Drug Take Back Day events this year, volunteers with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) and local law enforcement agencies collected more than 3,000 pounds – that’s more than one and a half tons – of unused, unwanted and expired medications.
“Most of the drugs we collected at these two events were prescription painkillers, or opioids, which are a high risk for being stolen, abused or misused,” said Kandyce Cowart, Blue Cross manager of Special Investigations. “Thanks to everyone who cleaned out their medicine cabinets and brought drugs in for safe disposal, we’ve now gotten millions of individual doses out of homes and off the streets.”
See highlights from the 2021 Drug Take Back Day events in this video (1:18).
Drug Take Back Day is a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) observance that takes place in the spring and fall each year. The event is an opportunity for law enforcement and healthcare organizations to promote prescription drug safety and raise awareness about proper disposal of leftover prescription drugs and other medications.
Normally, Drug Take Back Day events take place in communities throughout the country. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Cross, BRPD and other partners came up with a socially distanced solution, holding two drive-through events at BRPD headquarters. The events took place in April and October.
Between the two events, nearly 400 cars drove through, filling boxes with 3,050 pounds of drugs. Law enforcement and clinical personnel safely disposed of all drugs collected at the event.
“Our previous Drug Take Back Day record was set in 2019, when we could hold an in-person, health fair event, and we collected 1,000 pounds of drugs in a single day. I’m proud to say we smashed that record at each of our drive-through events this year,” Cowart said.
With so many people spending more time at home during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get rid of any medications that are no longer needed, she added. “Not only does that prevent those drugs from being abused, it keeps children or pets from getting ahold of them by accident,” Cowart said.
Drug Take Back Day events take place twice a year, but Louisianians have a way to get rid of medication safely year-round, through a partnership among Blue Cross, the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and law enforcement offices throughout the state. Through this partnership, secure drug drop boxes are available in nearly every parish.
See bcbsla.com/safedrugdrop for a map of locations. The boxes are securely installed, typically housed within law enforcement agencies and available 24/7. All turn-ins are anonymous; no questions will be asked.
Blue Cross members who want information about drug or alcohol treatment for themselves or family members covered on their plans can call the 24/7 Substance Use Member Hotline at 1-877-326-2458 to speak with a clinical professional. The hotline is operated by New Directions, an independent vendor that provides behavioral health services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and its subsidiaries.
For more information on National Drug Take Back Day, visit the DEA’s website.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates. Blue Cross posts often on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.