Michigan Agencies Host Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

November 11, 2019

The nationwide opioid crisis that has left its mark on Michigan, resulting in millions of filled opioid prescriptions and thousands of subsequent overdose fatalities. But now, the Great Lakes State is taking action to ensure residents can safely get rid of the potentially addictive prescription medications in their homes.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day took place on October 26, with Michigan organizations and agencies working together to provide multiple drop-off points for locals to dispose of their medications. Since the U.S. holds over 45% of the global pharmaceutical market, it’s no surprise that these drugs are often made accessible to those who don’t even have prescriptions. These take-back events serve as a way to prevent these drugs from falling into the wrong hands — or from being abused by those to whom they were prescribed in the first place.

At least 30 different posts throughout the state were established in order to collect unwanted medications, which can range from expired capsules to unused opioid prescriptions. Police departments, schools, churches, and other organizations dedicated their facilities to the cause. Such events happen on a fairly regular basis, as this marked the 18th opportunity in nine years for Michigan residents to participate. Moreover, these take-back days are part of a federal effort to get rid of prescriptions safely and anonymously. During last April’s drug take-back event, Michigan sites collected more than 23,000 pounds of drugs; nationally, drug take-back collections exceeded 937,443 pounds of prescription medications.

While these programs represent just one way to eliminate access to opioids and other potentially harmful medications, it’s clear that they serve an important purpose. Opioid deaths are now quite widespread — and while only 14% of all policy death benefits are ever disbursed, drug overdose fatalities are rarely anticipated, leaving countless families to grapple with the emotional and financial ramifications associated with the loss of a loved one. A survey conducted last year found that a staggering 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs, with the majority of these drugs obtained by family and friends (and often taken from medicine cabinets). In addition to getting these prescriptions out of homes, the take-back events also keep the drugs from ending up in landfills and in waterways — which frequently happens when medications are thrown away or flushed down the toilet. So not only could this keep teens and other members of a household from direct harm, but these events can also protect the environment and the public-at-large.

And while many organizations will partner with the Drug Enforcement Administration or other agencies a couple of times a year to host these events, there are other ways for Michigan residents to safely get rid of these prescriptions year-round. Many police departments will welcome prescription drop-offs — free of charge and with no questions asked — at any time, while several chain pharmacies and mail-back programs offer safe drug disposal options. Although these methods will not eliminate the opioid epidemic on their own, they can help to keep certain addictive drugs from being misused and can alleviate some of the shame surrounding prescription drug abuse.

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