SHERIFF: Fight opioid addiction during Minnesota State Fair

August 24, 2017 (MINNEAPOLIS) – The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Ramsey, Carver, and Dakota County Sheriff’s Offices, will be educating fairgoers about drug abuse and prevention at the #NOverdose booth beginning today, and continuing through the end of the Minnesota State Fair.

Submitted image.

The #NOverdose booth will provide information about medicine disposal and the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Statewide information about medication collection locations will be available at the booth, and there will be a squad car available for tours and photos.

2016 was a record year for opioid-related deaths in Hennepin County with 153 opioid-related deaths, a 39 percent increase over 2015. During January through June of 2017 there were 73 opioid-related deaths, an 11 percent increase from the same time last year.

Due to the record number of opioid-related deaths in 2016 in Hennepin County, the Sheriff’s Office launched a drug abuse prevention campaign called #NOverdose. As part of this campaign, the Sheriff’s Office is partnering with area schools, law enforcement agencies, elected officials, businesses, and health & community organizations to educate parents and youth about current drug dangers and trends.

“If Hennepin County experienced 73 homicides during the first half of the year people would be demanding more be done to reduce the number of deaths,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “The State Fair provides us with an opportunity to educate tens-of-thousands of community members about dangers of drug abuse, what they can do to help prevent future abuse, and what law enforcement is doing to fight this deadly epidemic.”

The Sheriff’s Office reached a milestone recently in its efforts to combat the opioid epidemic as it surpassed 100,000 pounds (50 tons) of household medication collected in Hennepin County since the program began in 2012.

Sheriff Stanek, in collaboration with the Hennepin County Environment and Energy Department, started the medication collection program in February 2012 when the first collection boxes were made available at Sheriff’s Office locations in Spring Park, Brooklyn Park and downtown Minneapolis. During the past five years, the number of collection sites has grown to 11 boxes throughout the county, with several local police departments introducing boxes in their lobbies.

Seventy percent of prescription drug abusers say that they obtained their supply of prescription medications from friends and family. Properly disposing of prescription medication, such as opioids, can significantly decrease the likelihood of individuals having access to these highly addictive drugs.

Last year, a change in State law allowed Minnesota pharmacies to provide medication disposal options for residents and customers. Since then, pharmacies have added several collection locations in the area.

Properly disposing of unused medication is not only important to prevent drug abuse and poisoning, but also to protect the environment.

“Medicines flushed down the drain or disposed of in the trash can have harmful consequences for the environment. Using a medicine drop box is an easy and convenient way to safely dispose of your unwanted medicines while helping to protect our water quality,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison. “As the County continues to integrate services into local communities, this is another example of how we can improve resident accessibility while also making a real impact on public safety.”

The medication that is collected by the Sheriff’s Office is destroyed by incineration, a method that has been found to be the most environmentally friendly while also rendering the drugs inert.

To learn more about the Hennepin County medication disposal program, click here.

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