Cass County participating in National Drug Take Back

CASS COUNTY — Cass County officials are asking residents to clean out their medicine cabinets this weekend.

Cass County will be taking part in a National Drug Take Back from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The day is designed for people to turn in their unused/unwanted prescription drugs to designated take back sites. The drugs collected will be turned over the Drug Enforcement Agency to be safely disposed of.

Events like the National Drug Take Back can have a significant impact in fighting the opioid crisis that has been making national headlines over the last several months, according to Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke.

“Our biggest thing we do [to fight the opioid crisis] is to get the drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets that are just sitting there before they get out to the streets,” Behnke said. “For years, doctors prescribed way too many opioids, so people would have the drugs sitting in people’s medicine cabinets. So, we have many places you can drop those off at any time to dispose on them. … We want to limit that opioid availability and get those off the streets. That is key.”

Behnke added that opioid addiction tends to begin with prescription drugs, many times a legitimate prescription, before moving to other forms of opioid abuse such as heroin. It is for this reason, he said, that it is especially important that unused prescription opioids are taken out of homes before they can be abused.

The National Drug Take Backs have been successful in the county in the past, Behnke said. At the last take back event, the county collected more than 300 pounds of unused prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Though the National Drug Take Back is a specially advertised day, the county has Red Med Boxes at a number of locations where people can drop off unused and unwanted prescriptions at any time, Behnke said.

One of those locations is at the Dowagiac Police Department on Front Street in Dowagiac.

Like Behnke, Dowagiac’s Director of Public Safety Steve Grinnewald said he believes that providing a safe, secure place for people to drop off their unused medications is important for the community.

“People don’t know where to put their medications, and we see a lot of those getting stolen or getting taken and used,” Grinnewald said. “We are just providing a place where people don’t have to worry about that or the drugs getting into the water system or anything like that. It’s just a better way to make sure they are disposed of safely, securely and no one is made worse because of it.”

Grinnewald added that the take back days and the Red Med boxes keep the community safer.

“It’s simple. It keeps the drugs out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have it,” he said.

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