Drug Takeback Day provides a place to safely dispose of unwanted medication, syringes

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Ramsey County residents with unwanted or expired medications in need of disposal will find a safe place to do just that at an event held by the Opioid Prevention and Unified Services Coalition.

The event is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Cub Foods Midway, 1440 University Ave. in St. Paul.

Along with drive-through, no-questions-asked drug drop-offs, participants will be able to access Narcan, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses, and test strips that can detect fentanyl and xylazine in street drugs. For the first time, a Clinic 555 Syringe Services Program van will exchange used sharps and needles for clean ones, according to Lizzie Byrne, a spokesperson for the event. Clinic 555 is another Ramsey County program that beyond syringe exchange also provides overdose reversal medication, wound care, and HIV and Hepatitis C testing.

“Proper disposal prevents crime, addiction, and misuse,” Byrne said.

Older residents typically account for much of the traffic at takeback day events because they have the most unused and expired medication to get rid of.

“That’s an important fact because 75 percent of people who suffer from addiction or misuse prescription medications get them from friends or relatives, not just from medical professionals,” Byrne said.

Jonessa Wisniewski, community engagement manager for the OPUS Coalition, added that by having a physical event where attendees can talk to professionals, people can get over any technology barriers that might prevent them from finding good information about medication disposal.

“The event is also not just for keeping the unwanted medications out of the hands of other people, but also for disposing of it safely so that it stays out of our water and agriculture,” Wisniewski said.

The OPUS Coalition was formed in 2017 after Ramsey County recorded over 107 overdose deaths in its community. The OPUS Coalition’s sector representatives are comprised of members from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, the County Attorney’s Office, local schools and tribal governments. OPUS also focuses on marijuana, tobacco and vaping and alcohol. It has established year-round drop sites for unwanted medication in Ramsey County. Find more information at opuscoalition.org.

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