How prescription drug takeback events are combating the opioid crisis

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration and local police departments are teaming up Saturday for their 18th National Drug Take Back Day. Begun primarily to combat the environmental hazards of unsafe disposal of prescription drugs, the day also plays a part in combating the abuse of opiates and other medicines. experts say.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration and local police departments are teaming up Saturday for their 18th National Drug Take Back Day. Begun primarily to combat the environmental hazards of unsafe disposal of prescription drugs, the day also plays a part in combating the abuse of opiates and other medicines. experts say. Courtesy of the Round Lake Park Police Department

 
Updated 10/25/2019 7:37 AM

When the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration first teamed with local police departments across the country for National Drug Take Back Day in 2010, the effort was seen mostly as a way to keep people from throwing old prescription drugs in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, where they threatened the environment and water supply.

Nearly a decade and 12 million pounds of pills later, the events now are part of the national fight against an opioid crisis that's killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The DEA and police departments across the suburbs (and the country) are partnering again Saturday for the 18th Take Back day, when citizens are encouraged to bring unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs to any one of thousands of drop-off sites. They'll be accepted anonymously, with no questions asked, and disposed of safely.

Law enforcement and substance abuse experts say medicines that sit unused in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.

"A majority of prescription drug abusers say they've gotten drugs through friends or family, including home medicine cabinets," said Cori Rizman, spokeswoman for the DEA's Chicago office.

According to the DEA, prescription drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths in the U.S. and are the second most commonly abused substance, after marijuana. And the National Institute on Drug Abuse says about 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.

Among the suburban agencies hosting events Saturday is the Kane County coroner's office, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 719 S. Batavia Ave., Building E, on the Kane County Government Center campus.

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Coroner Ron Russell, who's seen the devastating effect of the opioid crisis firsthand, told us removing unneeded painkillers and other drugs from homes can keep them out of the hands of drug abusers.

Rob Russell, Kane County coroner
Rob Russell, Kane County coroner

"Addicts ask to use the bathroom and then go into the medicine cabinet," he said. "They are ripe for the picking."

To find times and locations of Take Back events near you, visit takebackday.dea.gov/.

One more thing

For the first time, Take Back sites on Saturday will accept electronic vaping devices and cartridges. Devices containing lithium ion batteries won't be taken unless the batteries are removed before drop-off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"In an effort to support a healthy lifestyle and energetic population, especially amongst America's youth, DEA is committed to doing all it can to help safely dispose of vaping devices and substances," the agency said in an announcement of the change.

Remembering Shannon

There's still time to help an important cause while getting a good workout in the process, by taking part in Saturday's 19th annual Shannon McNamara Memorial 5K Run/2M Walk in Rolling Meadows.

Shannon McNamara
Shannon McNamara

The race is set to begin at 9 a.m. at Rolling Meadows High School, 2901 Central Road. The cost is $15 for an adult and $6 for a participant in high school or younger.

The event is held to honor the memory of Shannon McNamara, a Rolling Meadows High School grad and aspiring teacher who was sexually assaulted and murdered in 2001, during her senior year at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Besides honoring Shannon and raising awareness about sexual assault, the race also helps fund an annual scholarship at Rolling Meadows High given to a senior who exemplifies Shannon's goals in school and in the community.

To register for the event or learn more, visit www.signmeup.com/site/online-event-registration/132389.

All downhill from there

Not much went right for the Bears during the team's drubbing Sunday at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, but at least the playing of the national anthem before kickoff went according to plan.

The Vernon Hills Police Department's Honor Guard presented the colors before Sunday's game between the Bears and New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field.
The Vernon Hills Police Department's Honor Guard presented the colors before Sunday's game between the Bears and New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field. - Courtesy of Vernon Hills Police Department

That's thanks in part to the Vernon Hills Police Department's Honor Guard, which took part in the pregame ceremonies by carrying the U.S. and Illinois flags out near midfield for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Taking part were officer Ken James, Cmdr. Todd Williams, Deputy Chief Pat Zimmerman and Cmdr. Vince Utter. To see them in action, check out the video at the Lake County sheriff's Facebook page, facebook.com/LakeCoILSheriff/videos/411754472856987/.

Scam alert

Ever get a Facebook message from someone you know with a video link asking, "Is this you?" It's not, so don't click.

What you've been sent is the latest phishing scam making its way around the internet, says Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Phishing is the term used for scammers "fishing" for your personal information, passwords and account numbers by tricking you into filling out online forms or downloading malicious software onto your computer. In this particular scam, you might think you're logging onto Facebook to access the video, when in reality you're providing the scammers with your personal info.

To protect yourself, the BBB says:

• Always think before you click. If your friend wouldn't typically send you that type of message, it's best to check with him or her before you click.

• Know that videos shared on Facebook play when you click them. You shouldn't have to type in additional login information, download something or navigate to another website.

• Scammers like to cause alarm to create urgency. So if you get a message that says you're in a compromising video, your password is being reset, your account is in danger or in some other situation that needs immediate attention, be wary.

• If you've already taken the bait, report the scammers to Facebook and let your friends and family know what happened to you, because they might be the next target (with the scammers using your info as the lure). Then, change your login info.

Picture this

Attention, men and women in blue (or in the case of Illinois State Police, brown): The sixth annual "Community Policing in Action" photo contest is underway.

The federal Community Oriented Policing Services office will pick 12 winners, to appear on its website and its Twitter and Facebook headers. A photo of a Skokie officer hugging a child was highlighted in 2017.

Entries should reflect "positive engagement that promotes community policing and trust building with community members, stakeholders, local government and others."

You don't have a lot of time to mull what to send: Entries are due Nov. 4. to tellcops@usdoj.gov.

• Got a tip or comment? Send an email to copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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