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Opioid epidemic places new importance on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

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Opioid drug misuse has triggered the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in U.S. history. This week President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation confronting the opioid crisis. The legislation will add treatment and get the U.S. Postal Service to screen overseas packages for fentanyl, a synthetic form of opioids and a key cause of overdose deaths. But more can be done.

This Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The country faces an opioid addiction crisis. Nearly 48,000 people died last year from drug overdoses involving opioids.

“And that’s more people than died in car crashes last year and that really tells you how significant this problem is.”

Doug O’Brien is regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Twice a year his department and the Drug Enforcement Agency promote National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

He explains you need to get rid of old drugs responsibly. While you may think you might need them again, often they lose their strength over time.

“Secondly, those medications can prove to be gateway for somebody that you know and love into misuse of opioids and opioid addiction.”

And abuse of opioids can lead to the use of illicit street drugs. O’Brien says 80-percent of heroin users report that at one time they misused opioid medications.

“If you have family, friends, relatives coming into your house and one of them unbeknownst to you takes something out of your medicine cabinet either for their own misuse or often times to sell to others to misuse, then you’re inadvertently playing a role in supplying medications to drug addicts.”

Why not just throw those meds into the trash or flush them down the toilet? O’Brien says drugs in the trash can be just as easily discovered and misused and drugs and their chemical makeup can accumulate in the water supply.

“Anything that you’re not using and anything that’s expired, just put them into a paper bag, a plain brown paper bag, drop it off at a Take Back site and that’s many fire stations, police departments and retail pharmacies that will have them disposed of responsibly.”

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, October 27th. For more information log on to DEAtakeback.com for Drug Take Back locations closest to you.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.