Opioid take-back event set for Sept. 7

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Striving to "crush the crisis," Cartersville Medical Center is teaming up with the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force for an opioid take back offering. On Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the event will collect unused medications at The Hope Center's parking lot, 100 Market Place Blvd. in Cartersville.

"We were asked by Cartersville Medical Center to assist them in the process," said Maj. Mark Mayton, commander of the Bartow-Cartersville DTF. "The reason we do that is there's so many abused prescription drugs happening today by so many people.

"Most of those diverted drugs come from family members or just something left over in a medicine cabinet. So … if [the prescription drugs are] not readily available, it takes one more element out of the equation to allow somebody to divert those for illegal and abusive purposes."

Among the medications that will be collected are oxycodone — OxyContin and Percocet; hydrocodone — Norco, Lortab and Vicodin; tramadol — Ultram; morphine; hydromorphone — Dilaudid; codeine; fentanyl — Duragesic; and oxymorphone — Opana. Syringes, needles, lancets or liquids will not be accepted.

According to www.drugabuse.gov, "In 2016, there were 918 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in Georgia — a rate of 8.8 deaths per 100,000 persons —compared to the national rate of 13.3 per 100,000 persons."

“Our goal for Crush the Crisis is to bring awareness to the dangers of opioid addiction and increase awareness about the proper disposal of these medications,” stated Dr. Lakshman Dinavahi, chief medical officer at Cartersville Medical Center, in a news release. “Opioid addiction can happen to anyone, and unused opioids are a major source of misuse and diversion. We want to provide this opportunity as a confidential and anonymous way for people to dispose of their unused medication properly.”

For Mayton, if the Crush the Crisis take-back event can "save just one life, it's all worth it." 

"[Opioid abuse] has not surpassed the methamphetamine problem that we're seeing. But … I've seen more heroin in the last four years than I've seen in my entire career. … We did the big pill mill case here in Cartersville, and it was one of the first [in the nation] to actually be prosecuted," Mayton said, referring to the 2011 pill mill bust at Atlanta Medical Group on Collins Drive in Cartersville. "Typically what they do with those pill mills was they would enforce civil-type penalties, and they would just move to another location. So we thought [it would be] best to prosecute them instead of moving the problem.

"… So once we started targeting those prescription diversions, we have seen a shift toward heroin because they're just not as easy to get anymore. So the problem is there. One overdose is too much, but we've had more than should be happening right here in Bartow County."

For more information about the take-back event, visit CartersvilleMedical.com/CrushTheCrisis or contact Ginger Tyra at 770-607-1017.