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Residents help collect unused, outdated prescription medications

This year's National Take Back Initiative averaged nearly two pounds of drugs for each of the 526 Orland Park participants, officials said.

This year's National Take Back Initiative averaged nearly two pounds of drugs for each of the 526 Orland Park participants, officials said.

Gearing up for the National Take Back Initiative, Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said he’d like to collect 500 pounds of unused, unwanted and outdated medicine – more than three times the amount collected last year by the village.

Area residents on Saturday exceeded McCarthy’s goal, with the 526 participants averaging nearly two pounds per person for a total of 1,036 pounds during the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. collection at the two secure collection points. The program is in collaboration with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which destroys the drugs.

“Mathematically, there was one (participant) every 30 seconds – and that’s how it felt,” said Lt. Joseph Mitchell, who oversaw the event. “It was a staggering amount of people.”

Equally important, Mitchell said, “a high percentage (of the medicines) were opiate based” and included extremely addictive drugs used to kill cancer-related pain.

The residents “understood the seriousness of pharmaceutical abuse and wanted to make sure it (the medicine) didn’t fall into the wrong hands,” he said. “They wanted to assist the police department in making a difference in the community.”

Village and police officials laid the foundation for the event by helping residents understand that prescription-drug abuse can become the first step in a chain of addictions leading to heroin use. The number of fatal heroin overdoses are rising in the south and southwest suburbs.

Mitchell said Orland Park might collaborate with the DEA on a second prescription medicine collection in October.

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