About Take Back – Arkansas Takeback

About Take Back

Drug Take Back Day History

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), as part of its National Drug Control Strategy, called for an increase of prescription drug return and disposal programs as a means to curbing prescription drug abuse. About the same time, the Benton Police Department started a program called “Operation Medicine Cabinet” in the spring of 2010,  after Russell Goodwin, owner of a local monument company and youth baseball coach, told then Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane that he was “tired of making headstones for children” due to the abuse of prescription drugs. Benton officers gathered data that showed there was a problem with abuse and misuse of prescription drugs by youth, including information from the Saline County Coroner’s Office which showed that 30 people died in 2009 as a result of prescription drug abuse.

More than 146 pounds of prescription medications were collected at the first Operation Medicine Cabinet in Benton and the program and education to the public continued in growth. In 2010, a coalition led by then, State Drug Director Fran Flener, launched an on-going educational program to encourage everyone to “Monitor, Secure and Dispose” of their prescription medications. The also launched this website artakeback.org with an emphasis on educating and encouraging everyone to “Monitor, Secure, and Dispose” their prescription medications.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration launched the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on September 25, 2010 in response to an epidemic of controlled prescription drug (CPD) abuse in the United States and it is held semi-annually.  Arkansas supports this with core partners from the Arkansas Governor’s Office, Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, Arkansas State Police, Office of Arkansas Drug Director along with more than 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, numerous community organizations, businesses, media outlets, and public health providers. The Office of the Arkansas Drug Director works closely with the DEA in the coordination of this growing coalition, and in maintaining the Artakeback.org website.

One key to its success is the ability to have permanent collection boxes located at key locations throughout Arkansas communities. This allows the public to dispose of their unwanted medications throughout the year. Currently, Arkansas has more than 225 of permanent collection boxes, with at least one in every county in Arkansas.  Collectively, there have been 18 total Arkansas Drug Take Back Day events, and 17 national events. Results from the State Take Back in spring 2015 were rolled into the total results for National Take Back 10 held September 26, 2015.

Due to the commitment, dedication, and effort of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Community, its partners, and the multi-agency coalition, and due to excellent participation by Arkansans in all areas of the state, the take back events have been successful above and beyond all expectations.


Of Prescription Drug Addictions Start in Teenage Years

Lives saved from the Arkansas Naloxone Project

National Comparison (all Drug Take Back Day events):

Arkansas ranks #3 nationally in pounds collected per capita with 0.164 pounds per person. Maine ranks #1 with 0.385 pounds per person.1

Arkansas is 34th in population and ranks #12 in total weight collected with 495,266 pounds (248 tons).1

The four-state DEA region consisting of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi has a total weight of 755,349 pounds for all Drug Take Back Day events. Arkansas, despite being the least populated of the four, accounted for 66% of the total weight and averages more participating law enforcement agencies than the other three states combined.

Drug Take Back Day event #23 only (April 30, 2022):

Arkansas ranks #7 nationally in weight collected (Top 10: Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, and Michigan, respectively)

Arkansas ranks #4 per capita (Top 10: Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Alaska, Delaware, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, respectively)

Arkansas ranks #13 in the number of law enforcement agencies participation.

Arkansas ranks #12 in the number of collection sites (the DEA statistic doesn’t include the 270 permanent drop box locations where many Drug Take Back Day events were held.)

1 Determined using 2020 census estimates.  2 Determined using data supplied by the National DEA.

Weight Collected Per Law Enforcement Agency (Drug Take Back Day #21 only):

Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office ranks #1 with 6,599 pounds collected.

Baxter County Sheriff’s Office ranks #2 with 1,408 pounds collected.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office ranks #3 with 1,198 pounds collected.

8th Judicial District (Bi-State) Drug Task Force ranks #4 with 875 pounds collected.tt

Benton Police Department ranks #5 with 840 pounds collected.

UAMS Police Department ranks #6 with 800 pounds collected. 

North Little Rock Police Department ranks #7 with 748 pounds collected.

Jonesboro Police Department ranks #8 with 697 pounds collected.

Sherwood Police Department ranks #9 with 590 pounds collected.

Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office ranks #10 with 570 pounds collected.

42% → the percent of teenagers who have abused or misused a prescription drug & admitted to obtaining them from their home.

64% → of teenagers (age 12-17) who have abused prescription pain relievers say they got them from friends or relatives.

2/3 of all prescription drugs illegally obtained are taken from people’s homes → not from pharmacies or off the street.

“At the age of 18, my daughter knew 4 people who lost their lives due to the influence of prescription drugs,” U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) said. “This is a serious problem that deserves more of our attention. Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic in Arkansas & throughout our country.”

“Since 1999, opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled,” U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) said. “Arkansas Take Back is responsible for removing more than 72 tons of unneeded medication, estimated at 201 million pills from Arkansas homes. Help reduce the risk of developing addictions to prescription drugs by participating.”

Education is the key to helping us make a difference in our community. We can further reduce the lives this crisis destroys by simply educating those around us & by taking time to secure & dispose of old medications.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), as part of its National Drug Control Strategy, called for an increase of prescription drug return and disposal programs as a means to curbing prescription drug abuse. In early 2010, a coalition led by the State Drug Director, the Attorney General, both Arkansas Districts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and numerous federal, local, and state agencies, prevention professionals, and private organizations, launched an ongoing education program to encourage everyone to “Monitor, Secure, and Dispose” their prescription medications.

Arkansans are once again proving commitment to the mission of the Drug Take Back program and saving lives. In four hours, 126 Arkansas law enforcement agencies collected 28,480 pounds (12.92 tons) of medications during the 23rd Arkansas Drug Take Back Day.

Since the start of the program in 2010, agencies have collected more than 246 tons of medications. All medications are transported via the Arkansas National Guard and DEA to a commercial facility for incineration in an environmentally safe method.

“I am very proud of all Arkansans, who continue to help DEA save lives in ridding these unwanted and unneeded prescriptions from their cabinets at home,” said Jarad Harper, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge. “I am also very proud of our state, local and federal partners, who steadfastly continue to coordinate and collaborate in making the DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day a huge success here in Arkansas!”

Data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate an estimated 93,331 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2020, an increase of 29.4% from the 72,151 deaths predicted in 2019. In Arkansas, 547 people died from a drug overdose death in 2020.

Nearly 80% of heroin users reported misusing prescription opioids prior to heroin. In a 2014 survey by the Center94% of respondents in a 2014 CDC survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were ‘far more expensive and harder to obtain.’”

Drug overdose deaths involving heroin continued to climb sharply, with heroin overdoses more than tripling in 4 years.

Another reason to properly dispose of medications is for environmental safety. Click here for more information.

Opioid Prescriptions in Arkansas (2018)

Overall Lives Saved by the Arkansas Naloxone Project

County Statistics

County Saves County Saves 
Baxter 9 Johnson 5
Benton 5 Lonoke 26
Boone 2 Marion 1
Clark 1 Miller 5
Conway 1 Montgomery 1
Craighead 28 Ouachita 1
Crawford 7 Pike 2
Crittenden 10 Poinsett 4
Drew 1 Pope 3
Faulkner 24 Pulaski 246
Franklin 2 Saline 30
Fulton 1 Scott 2
Garland 30 Sebastian 5
Greene 5 Sharp 3
Independence 12 Van Buren 1
Izard 1 Washington 22
Jefferson 8 White 1
    Yell 1
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