Woman reaching for prescription bottle in medicine cabinet

Calhoun County Sheriff Urges Participation in Drug Take Back Day

What are 1,418 years of life worth?

Decades of celebrations, laughter and experiences – gone too soon. It’s family and friends left grieving, asking ‘why?’.

For the Calhoun County residents who died of opioid-related causes in 2017, an additional 1,418 years of life would have been lived collectively had they not died prematurely.

As National Drug Take Back Day approaches, I’m asking everyone in Calhoun County and beyond to do their part in stemming the opioid epidemic. Properly disposing of the medications in your home is easy to do and it’s an effective way to ensure that opioids and other drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands, contributing to substance use disorder and potentially dangerous outcomes.

Did you know that more than half of people who abuse opioids obtained them from a friend or relative? Regularly cleaning out your medicine cabinets means people with access to it aren’t tempted to take old or unused medications. We’ve partnered with the Calhoun County Substance Abuse Council to place eight permanent RedMed collection boxes throughout the county. Through those efforts, we receive and destroy over 1,000 pounds of unused medication a year.

We also set up a take back station at the Calhoun County Recyclerama that is held every spring. This past year we had over 800 pounds of medications turned in over a four-hour period. We also host events throughout the year when citizens can dispose of medications and we work to educate the public on the dangers of unused medication and improper disposal.

If you think substance abuse is something only other people need to worry about or that it isn’t a problem in Calhoun County, you’re wrong.

  • Opioid overdose visits to Calhoun County emergency departments doubled from 147 to 289 between 2015-2017.
  • More than 40-opioid-related deaths have occurred each year in the county in that same timeframe.
  • The annual rate of death from opioid-related causes is 30 per 100,000 people in the county, compared to 17.5 per 100,000 in Michigan overall.
  • Drug-related overdose deaths have surpassed deaths from motor vehicle accidents in the county.

Substance use disorder is an equal-opportunity disease. It affects everybody – all ages, economic backgrounds and races – and it steals lives.

Join us on National Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, Oct. 26, and pledge to find a safe location to dispose of your unused prescription drugs. If you live in Calhoun County, visit one of our RedMed collection boxes. If you’re outside the county, visit the Drug Enforcement Agency’s website to find a take back location near you.

Sheriff Matthew SaxtonAbout the author: Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew M. Saxton graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Lake Superior State University in 1993. He joined the Homer Police Department in 1993, before beginning his career with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. From 1994, until today, Sheriff Saxton has served in the roles of Corrections Deputy, Law Enforcement Deputy, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and now the Sheriff of Calhoun County. Sheriff Saxton is a graduate of the Northwestern University, Center for Public Safety, School of Police Staff and Command. Sheriff Saxton graduated from the FBI National Academy #230 in 2007.  He is also a member of the Michigan Sheriff’s Association Board of Directors’ and serves on the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

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Photo credit: Comstock

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