FARRAGUT, Tenn. — The Drug Enforcement Agency is hosting National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 26. More than a dozen places across East Tennessee are accepting expired or unwanted medications and vapes.

Because the Vols are playing at Neyland Saturday, Knox County law enforcement held their drug take back events last weekend so they can patrol the game.

A full list of Saturday's take back locations can be found on the DEA website.

Kroger's East Tennessee pharmacy practice coordinator Jim Knight said days like these help keep drugs out of the wrong hands.

"We really will accept any kind of medicine, it doesn't have to be something that is a narcotic or sleep aid," Knight said. "All of those things have expiration dates on them."

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At minimum, Knight said expired medications lose their potency and are not as effective. Some expired medications could have more severe effects.

"At the most, they may break down into something that could be harmful for a person to take," he said. 

Drug take back organizers are also warning that flushing pills down a sink or toilet is not a good option because it poses a risk to the environment.

"If we don't [dispose of drugs properly], it makes it back into the foods that we eat and into the earth that we live on," Knight said.

drug take back saturday
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday.
Grace King

State regulators caution our wastewater treatment plants are not built to remove chemicals found in drugs. 

"It's really important that we protect our groundwater and that we take care of our earth and be good stewards of those resources," Knight said. "[Drug take backs] help us make sure that we dispose of them through the proper channels."

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Metro Drug Coalition's Deb Crouse said law enforcement takes the unwanted medications and incinerates them.

"We don't want that medication to get into our children or pets, hands or mouth," she said. "Making sure that we are disposing of that medication is vital."

Crouse also said the DEA will be allowing take back events to collect e-cigarettes for the first time.

"We know that that's a huge epidemic," she said. "We're glad that the DEA is recognizing that and taking that as something that you can dispose of."

Some locations and pharmacies allow you to drop off unwanted medications any day. To find the location nearest you, visit countitlockitdropit.org.