CLEVELAND — The annual "Drug Take Back Day" is Saturday for those wanting to safely dispose of prescription drugs in their home. The day is meant to address the national opioid crisis.
Edward Morell knows that crisis all to well, but six years ago, he was able to break through.
"My addiction is what sparked me to get my social work degree to be a counselor to help other people find sobriety," he said.
Morell's journey to help others didn't come easily. After losing his mother to addiction, Morrell said his life and everything that was important to him began slipping away.
"I realized I was going to lose my family and I met the right people in treatment," he told us.
Addiction is an epidemic impacting the lives of thousands in Northeast Ohio, specifically opioid addiction. The latest numbers from the CDC report 4,251 drug overdose deaths in Ohio in 2019. Just in the first quarter of 2021, there have been more than 3,500 opioid related overdoses in the state, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.
A survey on drug use showed the source of opioids for many was family, friends and home cabinets.
"Just getting rid of drugs out of a medicine cabinet can prevent an accidental overdose," Morell explained.
University Hospitals is making it easy for Northeast Ohioans this weekend by staging collection sites across the area for people to rid expired or unused prescriptions. Anyone can drop off prescription medications, over the counter medications and liquid medications in bottles. Liquid bottles must be smaller than 4 ounces and be delivered in a Ziploc bag.
The collection sites will not be accepting:
- Illegal drugs
- Sharp containers
- Medical devices and batteries
- Aerosol cans and inhalers
- Mercury-containing devices
- Liquid antineoplastic (chemo) agents
The Drug Enforcement Administration created a "Take Back Day" website, where you can find police departments in Northeast Ohio that are also participating as a collection site.
"Addiction to opioids is an epidemic," Rick Sutton, a registered nurse working in addiction services, said. "It cuts through all socio-economic boundaries. Recovery is definitely not easy."
Morell would agree. He made it to the other side of addiction and now uses his experience to give back, teaching a lesson he learned during his recovery.
"I'm sober six years later," Morell said. "I needed to stay sober for myself and not anybody else"
For more information about University Hospital collection sites, click here.