Newswise — Every day, more than 130 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. In Illinois alone, more than 2,000 deaths are attributed to opioid-related overdose in 2018 with another 13,500 people experiencing non-fatal opioid-related overdose. While opioid medications are an important tool for acute pain control, many of the prescription pills often go unused, but remain in homes and medicine cabinets making them vulnerable accidents, misuse, abuse or diversion (the non-medical use of legally prescribed medications). In the last year, an estimated 16.7 million people used prescription opioids for a non-medical purpose and nearly 70 percent of those users obtained their pills from family and friends. Appropriate disposal of unused medications is a critical component of curbing the opioid crisis.
To help address this issue, Northwestern Medicine is once again coming together with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day with five medication collection sites on Saturday, October 26 from 10 am to 2 pm at locations in Chicago, Winfield, Lake Forest, St. Charles and Sandwich. This DEA initiative provides the community with a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unused opioids and other prescription medications.
“Opioid overdose continues to be the leading public health crisis of our city, our state and our country; healthcare providers must take an active role in addressing this epidemic,” said Jonah Stulberg, MD, general surgeon at Northwestern Memorial who is spearheading Northwestern Medicine’s opioid stewardship strategies. “Northwestern Medicine is honored to again work with the DEA to remove excess prescription medications from our communities. To date, we have collected more than 1,100 pounds of excess pills through our participation in take back events.”
As part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Northwestern Medicine will host Uttam Dhillon, the Acting Administrator of the DEA, at the Lavin Family Pavilion on the campus of Northwestern Memorial Hospital on October 26. His attendance highlights the important role healthcare providers can play in supporting the DEA and other law enforcement agencies in addressing this crippling epidemic.
“Since the inception of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative in 2010, thousands of partners have joined us in the effort to remove leftover opioids and other medicines from our nation’s homes, where they are vulnerable to misuse,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “These partners – including law enforcement, pharmacies, healthcare providers and hospitals, like Northwestern Medicine – have been instrumental in the collection of nearly 6,000 tons of unused, unwanted, and expired mediations to date. DEA will continue to work with our valued partners across the country to fight this deadly epidemic.”
From 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, October 26, community members can safely dispose of their unused medications at five Northwestern Medicine sites. No liquids, sharps or commercial disposals will be accepted:
- Lavin Family Pavilion Driveway(Northwestern Memorial Hospital campus) 259 East Erie Street* Chicago, Illinois 60611 *Drive-thru option available for disposal
- Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital Bays Medical Building Entrance 900 N. Westmoreland Road Lake Forest, Illinois 60045
- Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care St. Charles(on the east side of the parking lot by Kirk Road) 2900 Foxfield Road, Suite 100 Charles, Illinois 60174
- Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital 1302 North Main Street Sandwich, Illinois 60548
- Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (at the west parking lot across the street from the hospital on Winfield Road) 25 N. Winfield Road Winfield, IL 60190
For a full list of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day medication collection sites, visit: https://takebackday.dea.gov/. Unused medications thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. If medications are flushed, they can contaminate the water supply. Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment. “Opioid medications should only be used as prescribed and under the supervision of your physician, or other medical professional,” said Dr. Stulberg. “If you don’t use a full prescription, you should find a safe disposal option to prevent misuse or abuse of the medication; do not hold on to extra pills. The DEA’s website has a search tool that will allow you to find a medication disposal option in your community.” National Prescription Take Back Day is offered at locations across the country to give communities a chance to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. The disposal events are free and no questions asked.
For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs, go to www.DEATakeBack.com. To learn more about Northwestern Medicine’s efforts to curb the opioid crisis in Illinois, visit: https://www.isqic.org/opioid-reduction-initiatives.
For more information on Northwestern Medicine, visit http://news.nm.org/about-northwestern-medicine.html.