A group of physicians is hosting a statewide medication take-back event to help people dispose of unneeded and excess opioid drugs.
Michigan-OPEN co-director Chad Brummett says unused opioids and other medications are often abused, and can lead to accidental overdose.
“Many people have unused pills, but most people don’t dispose of them,” Brummett says. “With medications like controlled substances, you can’t just take them back to any retail pharmacy and return them. You have to be a DEA registered site to dispose of these.”
The purpose of the take-back event is to provide an opportunity to dispose of those meds in an easy way, and also to raise awareness of risk associated with leaving medications unused in medicine cabinets.
According to Brummett, among kids 12 and older who admit to abusing an opioid within the prior year, more than half get them from a friend or family member, about another 15 percent purchase from a friend or family member, and another 17 percent have them left over from their own care. Only about 4 percent buy them from drug dealers.
“About three-quarters of kids know how to easily find prescription opioids, and this becomes a source of experimentation, misuse and abuse that can lead to a really incredibly sad downstream effect of becoming addicted to these medications, and also potentially dying,” says Brummett.
Drugs collected at the Michigan-OPEN take-back events are safely destroyed, in many cases by incineration, Brummett says. Drug disposal is also confidential. “There’s no personal information transferred to the DEA or law enforcement. These are truly community based events that are intended to respect privacy,” Brummett says.
For those who can’t make it to any of the events on April 28, Michigan-OPEN lists safe medication disposal sites around the state that are available on a daily basis on its web site.