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Got Drugs? Get Rid of Them on Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

There are numerous drop-off locations for prescription drugs. Last fall, some 324 tons of pills were taken in nationwide. Search the list for an event near you.

Several "take-back" events will be held around southeast Michigan Saturday to properly dispose of prescription drugs that are expired, unused or unwanted. (Patch file photo)
Several "take-back" events will be held around southeast Michigan Saturday to properly dispose of prescription drugs that are expired, unused or unwanted. (Patch file photo)

What’s the fastest-growing drug abuse problem in Michigan today?

Marijuana? Guess again.

It’s drugs that are at kids’ fingertips in the home medicine cabinet, or just a visit away from Grandma and Grandpa.

The Centers for Disease Control says prescription drug abuse has reached “epidemic” proportions and is one of the fastest-growing drug abuse problem in the country.

During National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Saturday, offered in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, law enforcement officials, health and safety advocates and community leaders across Michigan will be hosting clinics where people can turn in expired, unused or unwanted prescription medications.

Last fall, the DEA and its partners took in a out 324 tons of prescription drugs at 4,000 drop-off locations.

The clinics generally run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26. There are several in southeast Michigan:

  • Michigan State Police, Brighton Post – 4337 Buno Road, Brighton
  • Clinton Township Police Department – 37985 Groesbeck
  • Dearborn Police Department – 16099 Michigan Ave.
  • Dearborn Heights Police Department – 25637 Michigan Ave.
  • Farmington Hills Police Department – 31655 Eleven Mile Road
  • Fenton Police Department – 311 S. Leroy St.
  • Ferndale Police Department – 310 E. Nine Mile Road
  • Grosse Ile Police Department – 24525 Meridian
  • Huntington Woods Police Department – 12755 W. Eleven Mile Road
  • New Baltimore Municipal Community Center – 37885 Green St.
  • Northville Police Department – 37885 Green St.
  • Novi Police Department – 45125 W. Ten Mile Road
  • Plymouth Township Police Department – 9955 N. Haggerty Road
  • Rochester Police Department – 400 Sixth St.
  • Royal Oak Police Department – 221 E. Third St.
  • Saline Police Department – 100 N. Harris
  • Troy Police Department – 500 W. Big Beaver Road
  • White Lake Township Police Department – 7525 HIghland Road
  • Wyandotte Police Department – 2015 Biddle Ave.

Nothing in your Patch? Find a drop-off site near you. >>>

Today’s Drug Dealer is the Medicine Cabinet

Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, the DEA says. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – pose both safety and health hazards.

When the prescription drug take-back program started 17 years ago, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak) said he and others couldn’t have imagined that prescription drug abuse would become a problem of such magnitude.

“In the last years that has changed and now one of the major sources of drug abuse relates to what is in our medicine cabinets,” Levin said Wednesday during a briefing about the take-back program in his home district. “Drug abuse remains a major challenge for our kids and if we are relaxed about it, we are doing them and all of society a major disservice.”

Joining Levin in Royal Oak were Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue, Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner Jim Nash, Royal Oak Community Coalition Executive Director Diane Dovico and coalition members, Mayor Jim Ellison, City Commissioner Jeremy Mahrle and Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin.

‘Shocking’ Haul at First Oakland County Event

Royal Oak hosted Oakland County’s first take-back event in 2008 and collected 600 pounds of medication.

“We were shocked at how many people – with their bags and bags (of medications) – came to our event,” Dovico said of the inaugural take-back clinic, held in conjunction with sister coalitions in Royal Oak and the Detroit Medical Center.

Since then, “prescription drug use has increased substantially,” she said.

A third of people age 12 and older said in a DEA study several years ago that their first experimentation with illicit drugs was with prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, but Dovico pointed out that prescription drug abuse isn’t a just a problem for youths.

“it’s not just teens,” she said, “but it’s adults of all ages.”

Two-thirds of all drug overdoses in Royal Oak in 2013 involved prescription drugs, Mahrle said.

“To me, that speaks to the importance of this take-back day,” he said.

Overdoses normally spike in May and June, which increases the importance of Saturday’s take-back event. The Royal Oak Police Department will accept prescription drugs at any time at a drop-off box located on the first floor of the station directly across front the front desk.

“So while it’s important to note a (drop box) is available here in our police department and you can drop off prescriptions anytime, it’s really important that we highlight this drop off day (at this time of year) and limit that spike as much as possible,” Mahrle said.

Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement that drug overdoses have tripled since 1990.

The drug-take back events are important, officials said, but one way to control others’ access to prescription drugs is to store them in locked medicine boxes, rather than in the bathroom cabinet. The locked boxes are relatively inexpensive and are available at area stores.

Royal Oak takes in about 600 pounds of prescription drugs annually, O’Donohue said. “We’ll never know which 14-year-old kid didn’t have access to some medication he or she shouldn’t have had,” the police chief said. “It’s that kind of volume. there is no question that it has had an impact.”

Bill April 25, 2014 at 07:52 AM
Given how aggressively drugs are marketed as the solution for pretty much any affliction, and how quickly they are prescribed and/or dispensed is it any wonder why legal drugs are a problem? Got a problem, there’s a pill that’ll mask the symptoms. It’s not just kids getting into their parent’s or grand parent’s prescriptions, either. I think if we really knew how many people are driving, running heavy equipment, dispensing legal guidance (in other words, performing their daily routine), while under the influence of prescription drugs, we would be shocked. I wonder what percentage of the population actually participated in returning their excess drugs last year? Maybe a tenth...? But even at a quarter percent, that would imply there are another 102 tons of excess pharmaceuticals still sitting ideally in homes across the country. What about the number of drugs flushed down toilets or entering our landfills? Check out the studies of the purity of municipal water supplies across the country. You'll be surprised. Most do not have the capability of filtering out medicines that have found their way back into our ecosystems.
Royal Oaker April 25, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Around 10 yrs ago my mother died. I had lots of narcotics left as well as narcotics I took myself that I no longer needed. I called the police and pharmacy's but no one would take them. I also had many prescription drugs and a thousand vitamins pills I needed to dispose of. My solution was to put them in my compost bin. The following year as I p;anted my flowers, the pills still had not disintegrated so the pots were filled with pills and in the ground. Glad to see this problem is finally being addressed.

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