KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Drug overdoses are a problem that has plagued Knox County for the past several years. In 2022, the county had 511 suspected drug overdose deaths.

Teaming up with the Knoxville Police Department for the Drug Enforcement Agency’s annual “Drug Take Back” event, those at the Metro Drug Coalition are looking to help combat that.

“Over the counter, prescription, narcotics,” Director of Primary Prevention Services Misty McPhetridge said. “We can even get syringes, expired Narcan, ointments, drops, lotions, we accept all of it.”

The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sam Club’s in East Knoxville.

According to data from the Knox County District Attorney General’s office, last year saw a three percent increase in suspected overdose deaths from 2021. The number was a smaller increase than the year prior.

“If it’s not locked up, even if it is, it’s easily accessible, people can get their hands on it,” McPhetridge said. “So just making sure that these drugs are out of the community and properly disposed of is super important to combatting all of the misuse that’s going on.”

Given that reality, McPhetridge said that it is rewarding to see all of her and her staff’s hard work make a difference.

“We’re seeing our work is finally paying off,” McPhetridge said. “Prevention work and the back end of things, it takes awhile to see progress and so, we can see that it’s working and so it’s time to push harder now and just make sure we see an even bigger result.”

McPhetridge also added that those looking to participate need not fret, they can remain completely anonymous.

“You don’t have to stand there as they go through it, so you can bring whatever you have,” McPhetridge said. “There’s no questions asked, it all gets put into a barrel, sealed and nobody ever sees it again.”

The DEA’s “Drug Take Back” event takes place across the country, to find other locations to drop off drugs, click here.