Residents of Saline County dropped off more than 1,300 pounds of medications during the Saturday, Oct. 28 Arkansas Drug Take Back Day, which was called Operation Medicine Cabinet in Benton. Residents of Benton have dropped off more than 8 tons of prescription medications since the first Operation Medicine Cabinet in April of 2009.
“This event was another success from the standpoint of helping to reduce the amount of prescription drugs in our community, but we still have a lot of work to do regarding this epidemic of drug abuse,” said Captain Kevin Russell. “The President recently proclaimed that prescription drug abuse is a National Public Health Emergency and helpfully this will help to further spotlight this burgeoning issue and allow the focus of additional resources towards alleviating it.
“As always, BNPD is committed to fighting this epidemic through take back efforts and educational avenues throughout our community,” he added.
The Benton Police Department, Alexander Police Department, Bryant Police Department, Haskell Police Department and Saline County Sheriff’s Office collected a total of 1,711.6 pounds of prescription medications on Oct. 28.
- Alexander Police Department – 25 pounds
- Benton Police Department – 1,041.2 pounds
- Bryant Police Department – 300 pounds
- Haskell Police Department – 76.2 pounds
- Saline County Sheriff’s Office – 269.2 pounds
Saline County residents have continued to take part in the Operation Medicine Cabinet events, collecting a total of 16,841 pounds since 2009.
Benton Police Department Collection
OMC I: 146 pounds
OMC II: 540 pounds
OMC III: 790 pounds
OMC IV: 483 pounds
OMC V: 630 pounds
OMC VI: 718 pounds
OMC VII: 807 pounds
OMC VIII: 742 pounds
OMC IX: 250 pounds
OMC X: 1,600 pounds
OMC XI: 890 pounds
OMC XII: 1,246 pounds
OMC XIII: 1031 pounds
OMC XIV: 1,504 pounds
There were 349 drug overdose deaths in Arkansas in 2014 and that number decreased to 287 drug overdose deaths in 2015, a reduction of 18 percent. In 2016 however, the number increased by 17 percent at 335 drug overdose deaths in Arkansas. *(These charts were developed from autopsied individuals only. The data was generated from autopsy reports containing one of the following words: intox, overdose, toxicity)
Saline County had a decrease from 13 drug overdose deaths in 2014 to zero in 2015. The number of deaths due to drug overdose rose back up to 13 in 2016. The highest amount of drug overdose deaths each year in Arkansas were in Pulaski County (79 in 2014, 67 in 2015, and 77 in 2016).
Across the U.S. drug overdose deaths have hit an all-time record exceeding vehicle fatalities by 150 percent. More than 143 people in America die each day due to a drug overdose. The rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (heroin and prescription opioids – oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and other pain relievers) has increased by 200 percent since 2000.
On an average day in the U.S: more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed; 3,900 people initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids; 580 people initiate heroin use; and 78 people died from opioid-related overdose. A large portion of people who abuse prescription opioids report that they obtained them in the homes of loved ones, including 42 percent of teenagers obtaining prescription medicines from their parent’s medicine cabinet. Also, 64 percent of teenagers (age 12-17) that have abused prescription pain relievers say they got them from friends or relatives. About two-thirds of all prescription drugs (which also include stimulants such as Adderall and depressants like Ativan) illegally obtained are taken from people’s homes and not pharmacies or off the street.
The Oct. 28, 2017, Arkansas Drug Take Back Day was dedicated this year to the memory of Nicholas “Cheezy” Alexander Kellar who was born January 7, 1994 in Fort Gordon, Georgia. He was only 23 when he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose following a long, hard battle with addiction. He was the son of Rory and Suzanne Tipton.
To dispose of expired, unneeded prescription medications, there is a permanent 24-hour drop box is located in front of the Benton Police Department, located at 114 S. East Street. To find the location of permanent drop boxes in other areas, visit http://artakeback.org/search-collection-sites and type in the city or Zipcode.
Dropping off medications at a permanent drop box is the safest and most environmentally protective way to dispose of unused medication. Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies. Most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Scientists have found medicines in surface, ground and marine waters as well as soils and sediments in the Pacific Northwest. Even at very low levels, medicines in the environment hurt aquatic life.
Medicines are a special type of hazardous chemical which are not safe in solid waste systems and landfills. Drugs can be very toxic for people and wildlife, even in low doses. Just as we do not put used motor oil or leftover paint thinner in the trash, we should not put these extremely potent pharmaceutical chemicals into unsecure curbside trash cans.
For more information, visit artakeback.org.