Local Groups Push Proper Disposal of Drugs, Reduction of Opioid Abuse

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A group of local health organizations is urging Detroiters to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday to help curb opioid abuse by keeping surplus prescription narcotics off the streets. The national event is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

A group of local health organizations is urging Detroiters to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday to help curb opioid abuse by keeping surplus prescription narcotics off the streets. The national event is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Delta Dental of Michigan, the Detroit Health Department, Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (DWMHA), the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC) and Youth Connection will announce efforts to reduce the number of opioids on the streets and to empower patients to manage pain without them at a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 26 at Youth Connection, 4777 Outer Drive, E. #1340.

The connection between prescription opioid abuse and heroin use is clear, with 80 percent of new heroin abusers starting their opioid addiction by misusing prescription medications, according to the DEA.

"It is so important that everyone knows how to appropriately dispose of their prescription medications, and Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a critical part of that effort,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Director and Health Officer for the Detroit Health Department. "We want these medications appropriately disposed of, so they are not polluting our landfills or water systems, or lying around the house at risk of being inappropriately used or harming children."

While the number of opioid prescriptions nationally has been declining, a recent analysis of claims data of 1,000 insured dental patients, published by the American Dental Association, shows that dentists have written more prescriptions for opioids since 2010, and that they are the most likely medical professionals to prescribe opioids to 11- to 18-year-olds. Nearly one-third of people aged 12 and older who used drugs for the first time began by using a prescription drug non-medically, according to the Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“Dentists are dedicated to being part of the solution,” said Dr. Jeff Johnston, Chief Science Officer and Vice President at Delta Dental of Michigan. “We believe in empowering patients and identifying the best approaches for effective pain treatment.”

Delta Dental is funding 600 Deterra drug disposal bags, which will be available at drop off sites across the city on Saturday. When drugs are combined with warm water inside the bags, the drugs are deactivated and dissolved, so they can’t be misused, abused and are safe for disposal.

“Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem and this event is a great opportunity for people in Detroit to help reduce that threat,” said Dr. Grenaé Dudley, Chairwoman of the Love Detroit Prevention Coalition and President and CEO of The Youth Connection.

The DWMHA has placed 28 red drug take-back boxes in Wayne County community police stations and community service sites. “The boxes provide a secure solution against drug misuse and abuse year round,” said Willie Brooks, President and CEO of DWMHA. Additional drop off sites can be found by ZIP code at https://takebackday.dea.gov/.

Efforts to solve the opioid crisis are ongoing. The GDHAC in partnership with DWMHA will host a joint opioid summit in Livonia May 23 to educate and inform the Southeastern Michigan community about the opioid epidemic and solutions.

“We are proud to be here with our community partners to fight the opioid crisis in Detroit,” said Kate Kohn-Parrott, President and CEO of the GDAHC.

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Lisa Ermak
@DeltaDentalMI
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