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Billings residents drop off medications on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 27, 2024

BILLINGS — According to the CDC, overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury related deaths in the nation, with the majority involving opioids. It's an epidemic that was accelerated during the pandemic and one the DEA is trying to prevent with National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Billings residents had the opportunity to bring in their unused and unwanted medications to the Crime Prevention Center or the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Under the DEA's Rocky Mountain Field Division, dozens of sites across Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming accepted unwanted medications. The program has been ongoing for the past 26 years.

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"We run into issues with people that have that stuff in their house and let's say their house gets burglarized or whatever. People are going to immediately go for the medicine cabinet and that's where we run into the people that are overdosing and selling it and all that stuff. It just creates bigger problems, so this is just a way for the community to be able to get rid of that stuff," said Billings Police Crime Prevention and Public Relations Officer, Tony Nichols.

The DEA hopes Drug Take Back Day will prevent medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting, especially with the onset of fentanyl overdoses in recent years.

"The fentanyl epidemic has its roots, if you go back, into the over prescribing of prescription opiates. And we know as a nation, the late 90s, early 2000s, how addictive opioids as a whole are. It's one of the most addictive substances that we've seen in humankind honestly," said DEA Rocky Mountain Acting Special Agent in Charge, David Olesky.

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Officer Tony Nichols holds onto a bag of dropped off medications.

"If you try to quit caffeine, if you drink it on a regular basis and you try to quit it. What happens, your body gets the caffeine headaches, we call them right. It's that withdrawal we're going. through. The nastiest feeling you've ever heard, the nastiest illness you've ever had, multiply it times 100. That's the way it's been described to us by people that have experienced it," said DEA Rocky Mountain Resident Agent in Charge, Cesar Avila.

Last October, 4383 law enforcement departments nationwide assisted in collecting nearly 600,000 pounds or 300 tons of prescription drugs. If you missed the chance to get rid of your old medications, everyday is Drug Take Back Day at the Billings Crime Prevention Center and City Hall.