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Health News Florida

At-Home Medication Disposal Campaign Aims To Address Opioid Overdoses

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During Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a campaign is distributing thousands of drug disposal pouches, enough to destroy more than 1 million pills.

A free at-home medication disposal program is looking to address opioid overdoses, which have spiked across the country since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

“Since the start of the pandemic, and especially with the stay at home orders, we've been seeing an increase in behavioral health issues across our state as well as at the national level,” said Kathleen Roberts, executive director of the . “If we take a look at just the start of this from March to June, the Jacksonville area had a 39 percent increase in overdose calls and those calls continued to increase months and months after.”

Roberts said that mirrors national trends.

“Data shows that 128 people die each day from the opioid crisis and now drug deaths are 13 percent higher than in the first half of 2019, on average. As we continue to see rising opioid overdose deaths, we need to work together to come up with creative and realistic solutions to prevent drug abuse at a distance,” said Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and co-founder of the , a national nonprofit working to end the addiction epidemic.

Traditional drug take-back resources and events have been limited due to COVID-19 risks.

October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month, and to honor that SAFE Project has launched its fall Gone for Good at-home medication disposal campaign, which aims to distribute 11,000 Deterra drug deactivation and disposal pouches - enough to destroy more than 1 million prescription pills across the country. 

To request one of these free pouches, go to DeterraSystem.com.

“Safe disposal is a proven prevention strategy,  and I encourage communities across the U.S. to use Gone for Good as a catalyst to become more proactive with drug abuse prevention in their homes,” Winnefeld said.

The first Gone for Good campaign, held in April and May, resulted in nearly 1 million leftover medications being permanently destroyed. A survey of the Deterra Pouch recipients found that half had disposed of drugs improperly in the past or kept them for future use, but 96 percent planned to use the Deterra Pouch within the next 30 days and 60 percent used it immediately. 

The survey also found that nearly half of the pouches were used to deactivate opioids and narcotics, more than 10 percent deactivated benzodiazepines, and 35 percent deactivated over-the-counter medications.

“Building on our momentum from the spring campaign, our goal this October is to increase the number of potential lives saved through the Gone for Good campaign,” said Jason Sundby, Chairman and CEO of Verde Environmental Technologies, maker of the Deterra Drug Deactivation System. “Substance Abuse Prevention Month is a critical time to explore how each of us can be a part of the solution to preventing substance abuse in the U.S. and we’re looking forward to partnering with SAFE Project yet again to serve as a springboard for these important conversations and actions.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org.

To see more, visit . 

Copyright 2020 Health News Florida