You can help prevent overdose deaths on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Making a difference is as easy as cleaning out your medicine cabinet.

It's best not to hold onto old prescription drugs, especially in a state like Minnesota, where opioid abuse has become an epidemic.

That's why state officials and local law enforcement are promoting a nationwide effort to collect them this weekend.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are asking Minnesotans to turn in their unneeded prescription drugs on Saturday – the 14th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“There were more opioid-related deaths last year than the year before. Safely disposing of prescription drugs that are no longer needed keeps them from being diverted or abused, or being accidentally swallowed by children,” Swanson said in a news release.

At least 90 locations statewide will be available for pill drops, the release says. Most events run from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Find the nearest drop off location here

Last year, nearly 9.3 tons (18,508 pounds) of prescription drugs were collected in Minnesota on Drug Take Back Day, the release says.

Opioids by the numbers

6.4 million – the number of Americans who abused prescription drugs in 2015, according to the DEA.

91 – the number of Americans who die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

637 – the number of Minnesotans who died from drug overdoses last year, according to the Department of Health.

12,000 – the number of children poisoned from exposure to prescription opioids each year, according to the Minnesota attorney general.

430 – the percentage by which deaths from opioid overdoses have increased in Minnesota since 2000, according to Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

4 – the number of times deputies in Sherburne County have used NARCAN to revive people who overdosed on opioids in a span of just 10 days this month.

Learn more

Opioids are a whole family of narcotics that includes lots of different drugs. All of them help manage pain, but they're also addictive and overdoses are a hazard

They include prescription pills like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. They also include heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug that the CDC says is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

There are resources within Minnesota and the U.S. to get help if you’re struggling with addiction.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website shows residential, outpatient and hospital inpatient treatment program locations. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) also offers help, and can connect people with resources nearby.

The National Institute of Health has more options here, as well as a guide of what to do if a friend or loved one has a substance abuse problem.

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