Prescription drug epidemic highlighted by drug take-back day - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Prescription drug epidemic highlighted by drug take-back day

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(WFSB file) (WFSB file)

Gov. Dannel Malloy and state health leaders are trying to confront the powerful drug addiction problem that is plaguing the state and many others. The effort comes in advance of national prescription drug take back day, which is April 30. 

Malloy and state health officials said they want to see everyone with old prescription drugs dispose of them at specific sites on Saturday. The drug take back day is a way to rid them before they lead to potential addiction or wind up in the wrong hands.

Drug take back day's profile is heightened by the prevalence of heroin in Connecticut, which has been costly not only in the number of lives lost, but added burden on health professionals and police. Many experts are viewing prescription drugs, like Oxycodone and Oxycontin, as gateways to heroin.

According to the DEA, 46,000 Americans die each year from prescription drug related deaths, more than half of them, being from heroin and prescription drugs.

Lawmakers said 45 percent of people addicted to heroin began with prescription drugs.

Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris said five years ago his brother-in-law left behind a 5-year-old son when he succumbed to his heroin addiction, dying on Father's Day.

"It's been tough to talk about, but talking to my wife, its important we put a human face on it and that people understand it affects everybody no matter where you are," Harris said.

Connecticut lawmakers have gone so far as to propose a bill that would limit drugs prescribed by doctors to a seven-day supply. Currently, the supply is capped at one month.

To help get rid of the drugs safely, Connecticut State Police barracks will all have disposal units in their lobby, giving people a place they can get rid of those drugs.

They said the boxes don't just help in protecting people from prescription drug abuse, but also help protect the water supply.

"We are seeing on an increased basis improperly disposed drugs turning up in water systems in lakes and rivers," Malloy said.

The 11 new boxes will join 60 already in place across the state. Last year, they helped officials collect more than 23,000 pounds of pills.

National drug take back day will take place April 30th From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For a location near you, click here

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