Residents of our community are not immune to the nation's growing opioid crisis.

Locally, there have been more than 600 overdose cases reported in Kankakee County by Riverside Medical Center and Presence St. Mary's Hospital as of late September. Clearly, we need to consider a better prescription for the question: How do we safely dispose of our unwanted or unused drugs?

Thankfully, a dozen local drop box locations make the disposal process easily accessible and as straightforward as possible for residents of Kankakee and Iroquois counties. To see a full list of dropbox locations, go to pledgeforlife.org/rxprevention/safedisposal.

While our community is engaging in the important conversation about combating drug abuse and opioid related deaths, there are many resources to help make the process of drug disposal straightforward and easy for all who want to be a part of establishing a solution. Safe disposal is an important part of the solution to help to prevent accidental poisoning, substance abuse and contamination of water resources.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Pledge for Life Partnership, the Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group and local law enforcement agencies are working to make it easier for you to safely dispose of any unneeded medications.

The 14th National Take Back Day on Oct. 28 was a tremendous success with 1,131.80 pounds of unneeded medications safely disposed of and prevented from ending up in the hands of someone who might misuse them.

Missed Take Back Day? That is OK. In addition to the many dropbox locations providing for year-round drug disposal, Take Back days generally occur in the spring and fall. Check out takebackday.dea.gov for some very helpful information including the date of the Take Back Day.

Members of the public who live outside of Kankakee and Iroquois counties, can call the DEA's Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 to find a drop box location near them.

For more information on substance abuse prevention, follow the Pledge for Life Partnership on Facebook or at pledgeforlife.org. Other helpful websites are: justthinktwice.com for teens and getsmartaboutdrugs.com for parents, educators and caregivers.

The choice between dropping your pills in a trash can or toilet instead of a drop box might seem insignificant, but it has community-level implications. The Pledge for Life Partnership challenges you to clean out your medicine cabinet, find your closest drop box and encourage others to do the same. Thank you in advance for helping to make our community safer and healthier.

Mariah Garratt

Kankakee

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