Last year, an estimated 60,000 people died of drug overdoses in the U.S., according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

DEA Agent Michal Root with the Anchorage District Office said cleaning out your medicine cabinet may seem like a small step to try and bring those numbers down, but it can make a difference. Root said addictions to serious drugs like heroin often start with prescription medication.

"It's not just doctors who are prescribing them and people are abusing that prescription," said Root. "It's people, especially younger people, teenagers and kids, who are going into their parent's medicine cabinet and taking out those drugs and maybe passing them out to friends and taking them to parties and kind of getting that addiction cycle going."

On Saturday, the DEA will sponsor the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The twice-yearly event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in locations around the state. Root said people are welcome to bring any drugs they wish to dispose of.

In Anchorage, the sites include Providence Hospital, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Fred Meyer stores on Abbot, Muldoon as well as Eagle River, Palmer and Wasilla. A complete list of statewide disposal sites can be found here

KTVA held a town hall on Alaska's opioid epidemic last week. There we heard from several of our state and local officials, but we didn't have time to answer all of your questions on that show. So we're taking the time to answer these important questions and will continue to do so. 

Marty asks, "If a person overdoses and EMS is dispatched, can a person be charged with possession/misconduct?"

The answer comes straight from Anchorage Police: 

They say, "State law prohibits charging a person who is experiencing an overdose or who witnesses an overdose and calls for medical or law enforcement assistance."

So, if you see someone overdosing, or you are overdosing, you can call for medical or police help without fear of prosecution.

Troy asks, "Is there such a thing as a hotline for an addict to call if he decides that he needs help?"

There is help. You can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at the numbers below. You can also find more resources on dealing with addiction at their website.
SAMHSA's National Helplines: 1-800-662-help (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (tty).

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