Drug take-back event scheduled for Oct. 27

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 5, 2018

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Local organizations and police are working together to make sure that unused opioid drugs are safely disposed of in the community.

The Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network, CARE of Southeastern Michigan and St. Clair Shores police are holding an opioid and prescription drug take-back event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at St. Germaine Catholic School, 28250 Rockwood St. 

Michigan OPEN provides education throughout the year to reduce excess opioid prescriptions and otherwise reduce their use in the community, said Matt Rico, a student at the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy and a graduate of St. Germaine. 

He said Michigan OPEN puts on the take-back event across the state to reduce the number of opioids that are in the community. While the Oct. 27 event will focus on opioids like oxycodone, morphine, Norco and Adderall, any pills will be accepted. Rico said that those dropping off drugs can bring them in their containers to be sorted by volunteers, who will then return any prescription labels to the person dropping off the medication.

“The opioid epidemic is a nationwide thing, and you don’t really think about how dangerous it is when you’re just getting a small prescription, but if someone else gets their hands on it or if you become addicted to it, it’s not even something you realize until you’re too far in,” he said. 

Rico said that Michigan OPEN tries to have take-back events at places that are visible in the community, which is why he approached his former grade school when he began looking for a site to host the event he was organizing with a fellow student and CARE of Southeastern Michigan.

“The reason that we do this is it is an active way for communities to get involved in helping to end the opioid epidemic that has affected Macomb County greatly,” said Adrienne Gasperoni, a community organizer for CARE. 

Keeping unused prescriptions out of the hands of youth and ensuring proper disposal to protect the waterways are two reasons for residents to clean out their medicine cabinets, she said. 

Gasperoni said that nationally, the Drug Enforcement Agency does take-back events twice a year. CARE of Southeastern Michigan participated with St. Clair Shores police during an event in April and is happy to be partnering with police and Michigan OPEN for the Oct. 27 event as well.

“They will be contributing. It’s an action step that they can take that will make a difference in their community,” she said. “Just the act of getting used to cleaning out your cabinet and getting rid of unused medication ... (is) showing care and concern for the community.”

Any medication in pill form will be accepted at the event. No syringes, sharps or liquids will be accepted. 

“It’s good to get the word out there and let people know of ways to dispose of these medications when they don’t need them anymore,” Rico said. 

CARE works to address substance abuse prevention on many levels, Gasperoni said, and the event is just one avenue to reduce the community’s dependence on drugs. The group is also hosting an event at the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center, 20000 Stephens St., at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 10 to discuss substance abuse in older adults.

Those who can’t come to the Oct. 27 event can take their unwanted medication to the dropbox at the St. Clair Shores Police Department, 27665 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores Community Resource Officer Chad Hammer said that the take-back event gives residents a way to get rid of unwanted or unused medication that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to throw away, “so it doesn’t get in the wrong hands, say a grandchild or a son or daughter doesn’t get a hold of prescription medication that they shouldn’t be taking.”