Drug take back days

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2022

Two-day event will be held in South Point

There will be two drug take back days on Thursday and Friday as part of Operation Bridge.

The event is being held at the South Point Walmart parking lot from noon–8 p.m.

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Operation Bridge is a joint event between county and local agencies in a mutli-prong effort to battle the area’s drug problems.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said it will be a big event to help combat the drug addiction problem with treatment, education and enforcement.

“We will have tents set up with treatment providers. Law enforcement officers will be doing drug take back at the same time,” he said. “So, basically, if you are suffering from addiction, if you need treatment or help, or some place to turn to, this is the place to reach out to. They can help guide you to treatment and get you set up.”

Lawless said that NARCAN will be given away. It is a nasal spray that is used to treat someone who is suffering from an opioid overdose.

“If you have a loved one at home who is suffering from addiction and you feel you need some NARCAN at your house, the health department and treatment providers will have some on hand.”

Lawless said education is a big part of the effort to battle drug addiction.

The Lawrence County Drug Task Force and the sheriff’s office have developed a program for the schools where student ambassadors talk about leading a drug-free lifestyle and help with peer pressure.

Lawless said the enforcement part is investigating those who are responsible for “pushing these poisons on us, these traffickers. We are averaging between 70–80 arrests a year, getting these people off our streets.”

Another part of the treatment is the Quick Response Team, which is set up through the prosecutor’s and sheriff’s offices. They get reports from EMS services after they treat someone who has overdosed and an officer goes to the hospital or wherever the person is and talks to them about getting treatment. The officers are there to help them, not to charge them.

“We try to contact everyone who suffers a drug overdose and we try to get them into a treatment facility,” Lawless explained. “We want to help them get off the drugs and not have those issues anymore. We don’t force them into treatment, it is volunteer.”

The drug take back part is to help people get rid of expired prescription drugs or drugs that belonged to someone who has passed.

“Any medication that you have in your home that is no longer wanted or needed, it is safer to have these things out of your home so your home is not a target. Or you don’t want children getting into it accidently, this is a great way to rid your home of it and make it safer,” Lawless said.

It used to be that people were just advised to flush the drugs down the toilet, but that has led to issues at both sewage treatment facilities and the drugs ended up in water sources like the Ohio River.

“So this is a good, safe way to help the environment, too,” he said.

The drug take back does not include “sharps” such as needles.

At the end of the event, the collected drugs are taken OSCO Industries in Portsmouth, which has a blast furnace where the drugs are incinerated.

Operation Bridge is being put on by a number of agencies, including the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office, Lawrence County EMS, the Quick Response Team, the Ironton Police Department, Coal Grove Police Department, South Point Police Department, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Ohio Department of Health, local treatment providers, the Boyd County Quick Response Team, the Huntington Quick Response Team, Fairfield County Quick Response Team, Hamilton County Heroin Task Force and Recovery Ohio.

Grant funding came from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s Office, the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Office.