Over 1,000 Pounds of Unused Pharmaceutical Medicine Collected Saturday in Orland Park
Two Orland Park drop off points for the National Take Back Initiative on Saturday collected over a half-ton of unused medicine for disposal over the course of four hours.
The Orland Park Police Department collected an “unparalleled amount” of unused, expired or unwanted prescription and over the counter medicine, to push back against rising abuse habits of these leftover drugs often found in medicine cabinets.
The two Orland Park collection points, one at the Orland Park Police Department and the other at Smith Crossing, collected 1,038 pounds of pills and liquid medicine, most of which were prescribed, said Orland Park Police Lt. Joe Mitchell.
Antibiotics and synthetic morphine patches were among the dumped medicine, but the most prominent were painkillers. Opiates such as Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin are also the most common pharmaceutical drugs recovered by police, Mitchell said. All of the medicine was incinerated after it was gathered.
“The quantity of the prescribed medicine turned by any single individual was astonishing,” Mitchell said. “On average – almost 2 lbs of medication per person.”
Organized in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the National Take Back Initiative was carried out by law enforcement in towns and cities across the country on Saturday to lessen the supply of unused medicine. The last collection date in October netted 160 pounds of drugs from Orland Park. The goal for Saturday’s collection was at least 500 pounds, Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said at the April 2 village board meeting.
“Any prescription drugs taken can save lives,” McCarthy said at the April 2 meeting. “It might be something we can do every day.”
Since 2003, more people have died from prescription drugs than heroin and cocaine combined, according to a release from the Orland Park Police Department.
Both the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention identify a faster rise in prescription drug abuse than other substances. Other studies have shown prescription pill abuse can be a gateway to heroin and other intravenous drugs.
“Turning in a half ton of medications, mostly prescribed painkillers, for proper disposal is evidence that residents understand the seriousness of pharmaceutical abuse, seek to ensure these highly addictive medications do not fall in the wrong hands, and want to assist the Orland Park Police Department in making a difference in the community,” Mitchell said. “Countless lives have been lost and too many families affected by this growing epidemic.”
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