Dozens turn out for drug take-back day in Portland

Posted April 30, 2018

Disposing of old prescriptions, especially unused opiates, properly is part of the nation-wide response to the growing opioid epidemic.

"They are even turning in pet medications", said Leslie Knight, a Maine Medical Center registered nurse who was there with about a half-dozen of her nursing colleagues.

The agency noted that rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high - with 6.4 million Americans age 12 or over abusing medications. "Her husband had been in hospice, so she had a lot of leftover hydrocodone and fentanyl that she wanted to get rid of".

The Take-Back programs are created to help people get rid of unused drugs that could be misused or abused by others.

They were participating in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, a biannual event in the spring and fall that started in 2010.

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"We have had a drop off before in the city, but not to the extent we have now", said Tim Kozal, City of Manistee Department of Public Safety Director.

According to the DEA's 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment, drug poisoning deaths from opioid overdoses outnumbered those caused by firearms, vehicle crashes, suicides and homicides.

"They don't ask any questions, we don't ask any questions", he said.

Boardman Police Department filled four boxes and Canfield filled about two.

He said on average, they collect 80 to 200 pounds of prescription pills on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.