Prescription drugs and prescription drug abuse are driving an epidemic of overdose deaths that include the boundaries of Oakland County. Prescription drugs account for nearly 60% of all deaths from drug overdose, and pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone are involved in 3 of every 4 prescription drug overdose fatalities.
Oakland County has developed a comprehensive partnership to create a coordinated, strategic action plan for reducing prescription drug abuse and overdoses in our county. The Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership has a strong coalition of partners who have an active interest in preventing prescription overdose deaths. Members of the partnership gathered today, April 28, 2017, at the Oakland County North Oakland Health Center for a press conference launching the latest initiative combating the opioid epidemic.
In honor of National Prescription Take Back Day, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and the Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership launched a new website, www.OakGov.com/PrescriptionDrugs that hosts an interactive map identifying disposal programs locations throughout the county. The website will also host educational materials about how to monitor, dispose, and secure prescription medications to prevent prescription drug abuse.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues today. Ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose,” Patterson said. “The Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership is working diligently to address this issue at a county-wide level and collaborate with those working on the front line of this epidemic every day.”
“This is a problem in Oakland County, this is a problem in the state of Michigan. This is a problem in the United States, and it’s really becoming a worldwide problem,” stressed George Miller, director of Oakland County’s Department of Health and Human Services.
“Drug overdose and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase everywhere, including Oakland County, and prescription opioids are a driving factor in this increase,” said Kathy Forzley, health officer of the Oakland County Health Division.
DEA Agent in Charge, Tim Plancon, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), commends Oakland County for putting an emphasis on the dangers of prescription drug abuse; noting that addressing the epidemic on all fronts is one of the DEAs top priorities. On Saturday, April 29, the DEA will host its 13th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in seven years. This initiative aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse and medications.
Honorable Judge Julie Nicholson of the 52nd District Court, 3rd Division in Rochester Hills, is happy that Oakland County is taking initiative with the DEA on this important matter. Stating, “10 years ago, there were no heroin or prescription drug cases on my docket. Unfortunately, today a large part of my docket involves those individuals that are addicts, with prescription and/or heroin. Many of the addicts do get their drugs illegally from others who are prescribed medication, such as, parents, grandparents, and friends.”
Captain Joseph Quisenberry, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, “Even though tomorrow is National Take Back Day for the DEA, Operation Medicine Cabinet drop boxes are available year round. “For every pill seized and destroyed legally, is one that will not be used towards addiction.” Operation Medicine Cabinet was launched in 2009 and as of today, offer 36 drop-off locations around the county where residents can safely dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medications.
“Bottom line, getting prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets across our community is an important step to reduce accessibility and will prevent addiction in our community ultimately. Making disposal information available to our community is a high priority,” said Forzley reiterated.
Prescription drug disposal locations include Oakland County Sheriff’s Operation Medicine Cabinet, local police, and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) locations, as well as pharmacies throughout Oakland County. The map will be updated continuously as new programs are implemented. The website also hosts educational materials about how to monitor, dispose, and secure prescription medications to prevent prescription drug abuse. Medical professionals can also use the site to find online training for continuing medical education credits and community resources for patients.
Watch the entire press conference on prescription drug abuse in Oakland County on Public Health Oakland’s Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/publichealthOC/videos/1329532963797009/
For up-to-date public health information, visit www.oakgov.com/health, find Public Health Oakland on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter @publichealthOC, or call the Health Division’s Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533.