Starry Gribble

Sheriff Dan Starry (left) and Sergeant Jim Gribble (right).

 

There have been 17 prescription drug overdoses in Washington County so far in 2019 alone according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. In an effort to combat this issue, Scandia will be hosting the county’s Household Prescription Drug Take Back Event Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. -2 p.m.

“The big thing that we want to focus on is preventing theft, accidental poisoning, and the potential for drug abuse with this program,” says Washington County Sheriff  Dan Starry. Since the beginning of the prescription drug take back program, Starry reports that there have been roughly 28 tons of unused prescriptions collected during the annual event and at the permanent drop boxes located in Forest Lake, Hugo, Cottage Grove, Woodbury and the Sheriff’s Office. 

“It’s usually that the leftover medications are either unneeded, or they were over prescribed,” says Starry. “When they are sitting in the medicine cabinet, there’s a potential for abuse or accidental overdose. People don’t realize that the drugs they have left over can be abused by friends or family, or that children could accidentally take them.”

Most people are unaware that disposing of these leftover prescription drugs by their own means does not guarantee that they are totally safe. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office encourages people with leftover medications to bring them to the event in Scandia to learn more about safe disposal. 

“We see it twofold: people typically either throw them away in the trash, or they flush them,” says Starry. “Not only can we prevent the possibility for drug abuse or accidentally poisoning by collecting them ourselves, we can try to keep our waterways healthy by avoiding unused prescription drugs that get flushed.”

With the recent opioid epidemic at the front of concern for law enforcement, programs like this are crucial in preventing frequent overdoses from prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine. From 2017-2018, Starry reported 42 overdose deaths, and the trend continues in 2019.

“We’ve had 17 overdoses in 2019 so far, 15 non-fatal and we’ve had to use Nalaxone 14 times,” said Starry. Nalaxone is a nasally administered drug that blocks the opioid receptors in the brain and stops an opioid overdose in its tracks. It is clear that the frequent need for this life saving drug and number of overdoses over less than three years shows the significance of programs like this.

Those interested in attending the event to learn more about the program, and to properly dispose of any prescription drugs can go to the Scandia Community Center between 10 a.m. -2 p.m. additional information can be found at http://www.co.washington.mn.us/meds.

“We’ll be at the Scandia site all day, and we ask that people take a look in their own medicine cabinets as well as family members’ cabinets for unused medications,” says Starry. “I also want to emphasize that if you can’t make it to the event, you can use any of the permanent drop boxes that are available.

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