Lt. Governor Rutherford Participates in National Drug Takeback Day Event in Howard County
Collection Sites Across Maryland Collect Unneeded and Unused Prescription Drugs to Reduce Prescription Drug-Related Overdose Risk
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford today collected unused and expired prescription medications in Columbia with HC Drug Free, as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Twice a year, Americans across the country are encouraged to dispose of prescription medications safely to reduce the chance of a drug-related overdose.
“Substance misuse is a crucial public safety and public health issue that has claimed the lives of too many of our friends, neighbors, and family members,” said Lieutenant Governor Rutherford. “Drug Take Back Day is a way to keep our loved ones safe by getting unused drugs out of the home and disposing of them safely. I commend state, federal, and local agencies, as well as the community-based organizations working collaboratively on prevention initiatives and connecting those living with a substance use disorder with resources to support successful treatment and recovery.”
Earlier this year, the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) and Maryland Department of Health (MDH) released a report showing 1,358 confirmed unintentional overdose deaths involving drugs and alcohol during the first six months of 2021 compared to 1,351 overdose deaths during the same time period in 2020. Through June 2021, health officials reported 250 prescription opioid-related deaths, compared with 210 through June 2020. Prescription opioid-related deaths had previously declined every year since 2016.
During Drug Take Back Day in April, Marylanders turned in over 11,500 pounds of unused medications. Prescription drug collection sites are located across the state and can be found using the DEA’s search tool. The 23 Maryland State Police Barracks also offer 24/7 drug disposal services.
“This event offers us the chance to take a simple and concrete step to prevent accidents that could lead to an overdose,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health, Dr. Aliya Jones. “By identifying and responsibly disposing of old and unused medications in our homes, and reminding our loved ones and neighbors to do the same, we can stop serious medications from being misused.”
The Hogan-Rutherford administration has launched a network of initiatives to support reduction of overdoses and deaths from opioids and other drugs. The Data-Informed Overdose Risk Mitigation (DORM), led by the OOCC and MDH, seeks to link a number of data points to identify common overdose risk factors. According to a recent DORM report, nearly 35 percent of individuals who died from an opioid related overdose in 2019 were prescribed a controlled substance in the six months before their death. According to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which allows pharmacies and healthcare practitioners to report and track prescription drugs dispensed in Maryland the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in Maryland has decreased by nearly 40 percent since 2015.
“Data insights like this can help illuminate opportunities to reach people who need help,” said OOCC Executive Director Robin Rickard. “We are using all the tools at our disposal to direct resources to the most critical areas, to reduce the risks of overdoses, and to expand access to resources that can help individuals who might be struggling.”
Marylanders are encouraged, through the Talk to your Doctor campaign, to discuss treatment options with healthcare providers and ask questions before taking prescription opioids. Marylanders who are struggling with a substance use disorder are encouraged to contact Maryland’s crisis hotline by calling 2-1-1 and pressing 1 or by texting their zip code to 898-211. The hotline can help people find treatment services, support groups, and other behavioral health resources nearby.