Prescription opioid abuse continues to plague every community in Michigan and is a national crisis that has grown to epidemic proportions - affecting every gender, race, socio-economic status, geographic status, education level, and religion. Most everyone knows someone who has died of an overdose or knows someone using or who has an addiction to opioids. The medicine cabinet in the home may be the most dangerous place in America. Proper and timely disposal of medications prevents them from getting out into the streets and the black market and is just one way we are working to combat the abuse of prescription drugs recreationally. There are an alarming number of teenagers abusing prescription drugs every day, and it is estimated that 4 in 10 teens who have misused, or abused prescriptions have obtained them from their parents’ medicine cabinet. Also, for senior citizens, unused and expired prescription drugs accumulate as the medical needs of senior citizens change. As a result, old and expired prescriptions can pose a continuing health hazard to seniors.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard In 2009, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office proactively started the Operation Medicine Cabinet™ (OMC) program, a DEA authorized program which creates a venue for individuals to dispose of their expired or unused medications anonymously, safely, and legally. Since the program began, we have partnered with many local law enforcement agencies to expand this service and have collected and safely disposed of hundreds of thousands of pounds of prescription drugs. At this time, the total number of prescription drug OMC drop-off sites in Oakland County is thirty-seven, with a few others that provide the service independently. In addition to providing this service year-round, the Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day two Saturdays a year, with the next one coming up Saturday, April 27, in conjunction with Earth Day. Safe and proper disposal also has implications for our environment as improper disposal (flushing) can harm our water supply. We will have a presence at the MI Earth Day Fest this year in Downtown Rochester as part of DEA Take Back Day, collecting prescription drugs from 10 to 2 p.m. at this and other locations around Oakland County. Please check the DEA’s website for a full list of drop-off sites scheduled for April 27 and year-round. The opioid epidemic is not going to be solved overnight or without great effort. Awareness, education, treatment, creative programs like OMC, drug interdiction, and good public policy are all key components to solving this terrible problem. On Tuesday, April 23, 2019, join Blue Cross for a Twitter chat about Drug Take Back Day. We’ll be tweeting on the @BCBSM Twitter page from 12 to 1 p.m. EST about the importance of disposing of your medications correctly. Use the hashtag #TakeBackDay to participate. Learn more here. About the author: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard runs one of the nation’s largest Sheriff’s Offices, overseeing more than 1,400 employees. He brings the experience of 32 years of law enforcement and 32 years as an elected official to the position. Main image photo credit: Comstock