CaptureWill DoerhoffOperation Medicine Cabinet XIV will be dedicated to the late William Christian Doerhoff and WillsWork.org. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but the location will be announced at a later date.

Operation Medicine Cabinet, the Benton Police Department’s semi-annual drug-take-back event, is the opportunity for people to reverse the opioid prescription drug overdose problem – which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “an epidemic” – in our own communities. We encourage people to gather expired or unused medications and drop them off at this event.  Medications can also be dropped into a 24/7 drop box located at the front of the Benton Police Department, located at 114 S. East St.

Information about this event will also be shared on various Benton Police Department social media pages (including Facebook: Benton Police Department, Twitter: Benton Police Dept., and Instagram: bentonpolicear) with the following hashtag: #KillerInTheCabinet and website link: www.artakeback.org. The Benton Police Department has partnership with Arkansas Take Back, which is the promotion of drug-take-back events to be held throughout Arkansas. It was the success of the Operation Medicine Cabinet in Benton that led to the creation of Arkansas Take Back by former State Drug Director Fran Flener. Arkansas Take Back announced the state-wide drug-take-back day on April 29 is also dedicated to the late William Christian Doerhoff and WillsWork.org.

In Arkansas, 1,067 people have died from a drug overdose in a 3-year span (319 in 2013, 356 in 2014, and 392 in 2015). Arkansas is also in the top 20 percent of states that prescribe the most painkillers per capita. It is these facts that led to the death of William “Will” Christian Doerhoff on Oct. 14, 2016.

“Will Doerhoff is just one of the many stories we hear from parents across the state, and country, about a life cut short from prescription drug abuse,” Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane said. “It is also a familiar story for too many families about the growing trend of opioid addiction that leads to heroin addiction, that too often causes death.”

“The Doerhoff family is a great family that never expected to deal with this problem, but his parents are guiding their grief and reflecting Will’s life to helping as many people as possible understand how this tragedy occurred. Their use of www.willswork.org and the Speak Up-Speak Out program they host at college campuses throughout Arkansas is an important and influential asset to disseminating information about the dangers of prescription opioids. The work of Scott and Shannon Doerhoff through their son Will potentially can save numerous lives.”

We encourage you to read more about Will Doerhoff and his parents dedication of Speak Up-Speak Out at www.willswork.org.

Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., exceeding vehicle fatalities by 150 percent. More than 143 people in America die each day due to a drug overdose. The rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (heroin and prescription opioids – oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and other pain relievers) has increased by 200 percent since 2000.

The CDC also states that, “94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were ‘far more expensive and harder to obtain’ and that ‘four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.’” In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills, according to the CDC. Drug overdose deaths involving heroin continued to climb sharply, with heroin overdoses more than tripling in 4 years. 

On an average day in the U.S: more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed; 3,900 people initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids; 580 people initiate heroin use; and 78 people died from opioid-related overdose.

A large portion of people who abuse prescription opioids report that they obtained them in the homes of loved ones, including 42 percent of teenagers obtaining prescription medicines from their parent’s medicine cabinet. Also, 64 percent of teenagers (age 12-17) that have abused prescription pain relievers say they got them from friends or relatives. About two-thirds of all prescription drugs (which also include stimulants such as Adderall and depressants like Ativan) illegally obtained are taken from people’s homes and not pharmacies or off the street.

Everyday there are new reports about the secondary effects and consequences of the opioid prescription drug abuse epidemic, including the fact that drug overdose deaths is greater than the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS at its peak, to reports of hundreds of children being removed from their parent’s homes and placed into foster care centers or placed with other family members. The epidemic also costs about $55 billion in health and social costs and about $20 billion in emergency department and inpatient care for opioid poisonings.  

But we can reverse the epidemic by taking precautions, such as locking up medications, and by participating in events such as Operation Medicine Cabinet. The medicines collected will be handled by law enforcement officers and will then be disposed in an environmentally safe manner. The protection of the environment is another reason to participate in Operation Medicine Cabinet.

Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies. Most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Scientists have found medicines in surface, ground and marine waters as well as soils and sediments in the Pacific Northwest. Even at very low levels, medicines in the environment hurt aquatic life.

Medicines are a special type of hazardous chemical which are not safe in solid waste systems and landfills. Drugs can be very toxic for people and wildlife, even in low doses. Just as we do not put used motor oil or leftover paint thinner in the trash, we should not put these extremely potent pharmaceutical chemicals into unsecured curbside trash cans.

We encourage parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drug usage, because education is the key to helping us make a difference in our community. We can further reduce the lives this problem destroys by simply educating those around us and by taking time to secure and dispose of old medications.  

For more information and for a list of locations across the state where medicines can be dropped off, visit www.artakeback.org