Missouri lawmaker pushes for drug take-back sites

8 months 6 days 22 hours ago Wednesday, February 07 2018 Feb 7, 2018 Wednesday, February 07, 2018 4:14:00 PM CST February 07, 2018 in News
By: Jenna Puritz, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - In 2016, more than 1,000 people died in Missouri because of opioids, according to the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

And director Mark Stringer said to end this, the approach needs to be aggressive, comprehensive and effective. 

Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla, is sponsoring a bill which focuses on tackling the opioid crisis in Missouri. The Health and Mental Health Policy Committee heard House Bill 2105 Wednesday, along with several people testifying in favor of the bill. 

One aspect of the bill zeroes in on a drug take-back program. Currently, Missouri does not have a state-regulated drug take-back program.

According to Rep. Frederick, Missouri has had programs in the past, but funding has run dry. Amber Cole, who works for the Missouri Coalition of Recovery Support Providers in St. Louis, testified for this program and the bill itself.

"Education is key to anything. Until we educate people, you can tell me to dispose of these drugs, but what does that mean?" Cole said. 

Cole was addicted to opioids when she was younger. Now, she says she's been clean for more than 30 years. 

"I grew up under drugs. Right now, my family member is struggling with addiction, as well as a niece out in California," she said. 

Cole said she sees no problem with a drug take-back program, adding that drug addiction doesn't just affect the user, but the family and the community as well.

"I've been through it. I've seen where I burned some bridges. I see where I literally hurt my children because their mom, mentally, was not there," she said. 

Drug take-backs look different depending on the state, but generally it involves sites where people who are not taking prescribed pain medication or other drugs anymore can come and drop their medicine off safely.

Cole said if substance users know someone is prescribed to those medications, they could become a target.

"The substance user will try and break in your home because they know that you have that morphine, you have those opioids, the pain, the hard ones, you have that Tylenol 800," Cole said. 

Right now, according to Frederick, there's a section of a Missouri law that prohibits pharmacies from providing drop-off sites for prescription medications. He said his bill is trying to eliminate that. 

If you have prescription medications that you are no longer using, Rep. Frederick recommends you call your local police department to either drop them off there or the police can tell you a safe drop-off site. 

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