Drug disposal programs growing in wake of Prince's death

Drug disposal programs growing in wake of Prince death

As new evidence emerges about the grip opioid pain killers had on Prince before his death, so too does the evidence of the drugs' grip on the country.

"Roughly one in five users, who are given a 10-day supply will go on to become habituated and be a more daily, chronic user long term," said Dr. Peter Stiles, Medical Director of the Tria Pain Management Program.

Though formal efforts by the CDC and FDA to curb overprescribing pain killers began last March, just before Prince's death, Dr. Stiles says the spotlight of the music icon's tragic story also impacted both doctors and patients.

"What I have noticed is patients are more understanding that there is an epidemic and the expectation has shifted a little bit from, 'I'd like to show up and get my refill,' to 'I'd like to show up and learn some alternative strategies to manage my pain,'" Stiles said.

That awareness has also increased demand for safe drug disposal options. Not only does Hennepin County now offer six drop off sites for controlled substances, but several area police departments, including Plymouth, are now offering drug deactivation bags so you can dispose of drugs safely from home.

"Add water to this (bag), it's going to deactivate the ingredients and then it's safe to throw into your own garbage," said Plymouth Police Captain Michael Reed.

Plymouth was among the first to offer the bags for free to residents in December. They have already handed out more than 230 bags to people who come to the police station and ask for them.

"Once you're done with it, once the cycle runs out, get rid of it," Reed said. "Don't let it be that opportunity, not necessarily for you but somebody other … a guest, another resident, a family member in that home."

And with access and education improving, experts say there are fewer excuses for doing nothing.

"You wouldn't leave a gun around and we know that opioid overdoses are killing 91 people per day in our country," Dr. Stiles said. "So this is a dangerous thing to have around your house."

More information on drug disposal options throughout the area is available online.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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