NRV law enforcement agencies collect over 1,600 pounds of medications during latest “Take Back Day”
By Mike Wade, NRVCS
Law enforcement agencies across the New River Valley recently collected a combined total of 1,638.7 pounds of unused or expired medications during the “Take Back Day” event conducted on Saturday, October 29. The effort was part of a national event that is held twice each year, organized by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“Take Back Day” is designed to reduce the potential for medication misuse and opioid addiction by providing community members with a safe way to properly rid their homes of prescription drugs that are expired or no longer needed. Given that the United States has seen a record-high number of overdose deaths in the past year (more than 107,000 reported), officials say supply reduction efforts like this are vital to community health and public safety.
If the weight of an average pill is 0.5 grams, the combined Take Back Day collections from across the New River Valley would equate to nearly 1.5 million pills.
“I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard over the years from folks who have been devastated by the consequences of substance use disorders that first developed issues with addiction following a medical or dental procedure,” says Mike Wade, Coordinator of Community Wellness & Outreach for New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS). “They never intended or intentionally set out to become addicted to the pain relievers they had been prescribed, but it happens – and it could happen to any of us.”
To help encourage community participation in the event, NRVCS utilized a portion of its State Opioid Response (SOR) funds to produce a promotional mailer that went out to homes across the New River Valley. The mailer is one component of the agency’s ongoing “End Overdose NRV” campaign, which focuses on overdose prevention and opioid awareness.
Wade explains that the increased prevalence of fentanyl, a highly-potent, synthetically produced opioid, has played a major role in the record number of overdose deaths – many of which are accidental because fentanyl is often mixed with, or disguised as, other substances.
“People who experiment with or misuse drugs simply do not know what they are putting into their bodies,” Wade adds. “Fentanyl can’t be detected by sight, taste or smell and unfortunately just a very small amount of that particular substance – when ingested – can be fatal.”
For several years, NRVCS has been leading efforts to have community members trained in how to use naloxone, the medication that has been proven to reverse the effects of a suspected opioid overdose. The agency continues to provide both the training and supplies of naloxone nasal spray at no cost. Anyone interested in receiving this training and a complimentary supply of naloxone spray can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nrvcs.org/endoverdosenrv to learn more.
Nationally, the DEA reports that a combined 647,163 pounds (324 tons) of medications was collected during the October 29 Take Back Day, with 4,902 participating collection sites across the country. Collection totals from across the New River Valley are included below:
|Law Enforcement Agency||Pounds Collected|
|Town of Blacksburg Police||349|
|Town of Christiansburg Police||297.7|
|Town of Dublin Police||90.5|
|Floyd County Sheriff’s Office||143|
|Giles County Sheriff’s Office||185.6|
|Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office||153.4|
|Town of Pulaski Police||185|
|City of Radford Police||234.5|