Police departments are a first-line defense against drug abuse and misuse, and Verde Technologies is dedicated to working with them to distribute the Deterra Drug Deactivation System throughout communities. The Eden Prairie (Minnesota) Police Department began using Deterra just over a year ago. Police Chief Rob Reynolds shares how it’s fueled their efforts to fight drug abuse and improve the health and safety of the community.
Over the past few years, we noticed that prescription drug abuse and heroin use —which are often connected — in the Twin Cities metro area was dramatically increasing. We also learned that heroin is more potent than in the past, leading to more overdoses and more incidences of respiratory arrest and death. From 2004 to 2011, heroin-involved emergency room visits nearly tripled in the Twin Cities metro area. This increase not only affects the heroin user, but also communities, families, emergency medical services, the larger medical community and, of course, law enforcement.
Police departments are concerned because heroin addiction often begins by using — or abusing — prescription drugs. Heroin addicts may break into homes looking for prescription medications, or for guns or jewelry to pawn for cash to buy more heroin. They may get behind the wheel of a car while using drugs and cause tragic accidents, break up families or leave children without parents. Heroin addicts may also need emergency and medical services including police, ambulances and hospital care. Prescription drug abuse and heroin’s impact is broad, and law enforcement agencies across the country are working hard to address both issues.
People who become addicted to heroin often start with legitimate prescription painkillers. Opioid painkillers contain morphine and codeine. Like heroin, they derive from the poppy plant and therefore work in the same way. When their prescriptions run out, they may look for other painkillers in the homes of friends or family members in order to feed their addiction. Four out of five new heroin users started by misusing prescription painkillers. When they run out of options for prescription opioid painkillers, they turn to heroin, which is typically cheaper than prescription opioids.
Burglars also look for prescription painkillers during break-ins to either use themselves or sell on the street. Knowing this, our department decided that one way to combat theft and abuse of prescription drugs – as well as prevent heroin addiction – is to remove them from homes in the first place.
In June 2014, the Eden Prairie Crime Prevention Fund and OptumRx funded our purchase of the Deterra System to help residents dispose of unused prescription drugs at home. Eden Prairie residents can pick up Deterra pouches for free at our front desk during regular business hours. Our officers also carry them in their squad cars, the Eden Prairie Fire Department distributes Deterra as part of its home visitation program after patients leave area hospitals and our senior liaison officer distributes the product to senior living residences.
We have been extremely pleased with the response we have received from our residents and look forward to continuing this valuable program in Eden Prairie.
Deterra works with a variety of organizations committed to supporting and implementing solutions to reduce ongoing issues of prescription drug abuse and misuse. The Deterra partnership program provides a cost-effective, environmentally and socially responsible way to quell the urgent issue through distribution of the Deterra System pouches at physician offices, pharmacies, hospitals and community locations to safely dispose of unused and unwanted medications. For more information, please contact us.