Semi-annual drug take-back event is Saturday

Posted at 5:46 PM, Apr 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-26 21:23:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah's semi-annual drug take-back event takes place on Saturday, and health experts hope residents take advantage and properly dispose of their unneeded medication.

In 2011, more people died from accidental overdoses than from car crashes, and organizers hope that residents get pain pills out of circulation and away from those who would abuse them.

"It keeps your unused or expired medications out of the hands of somebody else who could misuse or abuse them," said Elizabeth Sollis with the Utah Dept. of Human Services.

Provo resident Joanne Petrie knows first-hand the dangers of pain pill addiction. In 2006, her son Jordan, then 27, died of a heroin overdose. But his parents say his downward spiral started with a pain pill addiction.

Jordan isn't alone in his deadly addiction; there is a big problem with pain pill abuse in Utah County.

"So there's this big picture out there I've discovered, people are dying, it hasn't changed," said Terry Petrie, Jordan's father.

Now the Petries are determined to try and make changes and prevent more needless deaths. Joanne has joined the Utah County SMART Coalition, which is short for Substance Misuse, Abuse Reduction Team.

The Petries are also supporters of prescription take-back events like the one on Saturday.

"We're trying to help people recognize they got as potentially lethal substance in their cupboards, a lot of them actually and they need to be getting rid of them," the said.

The take-backs are supported by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and have been successful in Utah, with hundreds of thousands of pain pills collected since 2010.

"It was only going to be an annual event and now they hold it twice a year because they've had such great response from the community," Sollis said.

The event is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations across the state, including many Smith's stores. For more information, visit