UPDATE: Monday, doctors gathered at the Hamilton County Health Department to discuss an issue plaguing our country and state, opioids.

Research shows opioid overdose took the lives of more than 1,100 Tennesseans in 2016.

Hamilton County recorded 53 out of 69 drug overdoses were caused by opioids. 

Monday, one doctor released new details about the crisis and offered advice for Tennesseans in order to save lives.

"Empty your medicine cabinets," Dr. Nita Shumaker, president of the Tennessee Medical Association, advised. "You actually can crush your pain medicine and put it in either cat litter or coffee grounds and dispose of it. You can take it to a lot of Walgreen's sites. You can take it to the police department. But it is imperative that those medicines not sit in our cabinets as 80 percent of heroin users start with a prescription opioid."

But Tom Bodkin, spokesman for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, offers that the recommended and environmentally responsible way to dispose of expired, unused, or unwanted medications is by taking them to one of the following "no-questions-asked" drop-off locations:

Locations open 24/7 locations include:

  • Chattanooga Police Department, 3204 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga TN, 37406
  • Hamilton County Sheriff's Department – East Sector, 8395 Hickory Valley Road, Chattanooga TN, 37416
  • Red Bank Police Department, 3117 Dayton Boulevard, Red Bank TN, 37415
  • Walgreen’s, 5478 Highway 153, Hixson TN 37343 (no other Walgreen’s or CVS in the Chattanooga area takes medications)

Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:00pm only:

  • Hamilton County Sheriff's Department - West Sector, 6233 Dayton Boulevard, Chattanooga 37343 

Please consider these suggestions for proper disposal of expired or unused medications:

  • Remove expired, unused, or unwanted medications from the house as soon as possible
  • Do not flush them in a toilet or throw them out into the environment
  • Do not put them in trash that is destined for the landfill because they will end up back in the environment
  • Do not give them to anyone to dispose of them that you do not trust

National Drug Take Back Day is April 28, 2018, 10:00am-2:00pm. There will be multiple sites around Hamilton County for drug drop-offs.
For further information or to find map directions to the drop-off locations, please visit the Hamilton County Coalition website or call them at 423-305-1449.

Doctors say opioids of any type accounted for 73 percent of all drug overdoses in 2016.