National drug take back day aims to curb addiction

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Saturday is National Drug Take Back Day. It’s a day local law enforcement and pharmacies across the state and the nation join in the effort to fight prescription drug abuse. According to the latest numbers from the CDC, over 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses. In 2014, half of those deaths involved a prescription drug.

All it takes is walking in the door and disposing of unused prescription pills. Bill Pohanka knows not to flush them down the toilet, either.

“I didn’t even want them in my house so there was no opportunity for anybody to get a hold of ’em,” Pohanka said.

That’s the reason Saturday is national prescription drug take-back day. U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg knows the danger of having leftover drugs from medical procedures or other health issues.

“We have too many people now that have started their life into heroin addiction by using opioids that have been given to them for legitimate reasons,” Walberg said.

And Jackson Police Chief Matthew Heins says when those pills go unused; they can fall in the wrong hands.

“They sit there and they become accessible to people who have addictions,” Heins said.

Heins says if people talk about this issue more freely, there will be less of a stigma.

“People can become more comfortable with coming forward and say hey I have a relative or I have a family member that’s addicted to heroin and I need help,” Heins said.

County prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka says heroin is the number one drug issue he sees.

“It’s not just a Jackson County problem or a state of Michigan problem,” Jarzynka said. “It’s throughout all the states in the United States.”

The drop boxes are just one step in a preventing abuse.

We want citizens to be aware of them, to make use of them because it’s a good way to eliminate a threat,” Jarzynka said.

Jarzynka and Heins agree that people need to understand that heroin addicts are victims, not criminals.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Heins said. “As Prosecutor Jarzynka has mentioned, prevention is certainly the best approach to take with this problem.”

Overall, Congressman Walberg says everyone needs to pitch in.

“It’s a community thing. It’s values. Let’s value each other and help each other out,” Walberg said.

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