In the nationwide effort to combat the growing opioid crisis plaguing cities and towns across the country, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency Take Back Day provides an opportunity for local residents to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths by disposing of unused prescription medications.
As part of the DEA’s Take Back Day, the Bloomington and Normal police departments offer residents an alternative for disposing of their unused or expired prescriptions in bins located outside of both stations.
The Drug Take Back events take place every six months per DEA request. The first event took place at the end of April and the second event will be held this coming October. However, the police departments are still providing drop off locations for the medications.
According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study revealed that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from friends and family, most often from medicine cabinets at home.
Normal Police Officer Greg Leipold said this is not a new initiative and the DEA has been sponsoring the event for 15 years.
“We began the initiative per request of the DEA and it is strictly just for the police departments. You can come to Circle Drive and there will be several organizations that volunteer their time, such as P.A.T.H., Project Oz and all sorts of other organizations who volunteer their time to help in taking back the drugs,” Leipold said.
“There’s always a police officer right there to make sure the drugs are not going where they are not supposed to go, and this year we collected close to 400 pounds of drugs,” he said. “This number is not unusual as we usually collect close to that amount, so it is absolutely the usual.”
“It’s become more of a positive alternative to dispose of your expired medicines because of the opioid epidemic. It does not pertain to just opioid medications but any expired medication at all. So, it is not geared towards solely opioids,” he added.
Illinois State University senior criminal justice major Chloe Delaney said the topic of narcotics and drug related crime rates were discussed in many of her courses.
“We also frequently discussed how a majority of those in prison are incarcerated for drug-related crimes and most of them are nonviolent,” Delaney said.
“As far as Illinois, we talked about Bloomington-Normal’s drug crime rates and how they go about trying to lower and deter crimes, especially around campus,” she continued. “I think both police departments are doing a great service to our community through these initiatives.”
Residents can use the drop off locations at any time of the day or night.
“I would say that the opioid problem is becoming more prevalent everywhere, not just the Bloomington-Normal area. Everyone has to do everything they possibly can to curb that,” Leipold said.
“On our department’s social media page, we announce the times and dates of these events as well as any other initiatives that we might take,” Leipold said.