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Local, national leaders come together to help prevent drug overdoses

St. Joseph County is seeing more deadly overdoses this year compared to last year, and the pandemic is partly to blame. But national and local leaders are coming together to try and curb the numbers. The 525 Foundation in our area is partnering with several coalitions to combat the current overdose epidemic. It’s all part of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month that’s happening right now. The 525 Foundation is hosting events and providing resources to families to prevent future overdoses. Everything from providing warning signs of substance abuse, to even giving away thousands of drug de-activation pouches to our community.


Since starting the 525 Foundation three years ago, it’s been Becky Savage’s mission to spread awareness about drug overdoses. Especially during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.


“We really wanted to make this month something special,” said Savage. Not only her foundation, but several coalitions across the nation are pushing for the same goal. “We just started talking and we are all trying to do the same thing here, you know, how can we all work together?”


The foundation is partnering with a company called Deterra known for making drug de-activation pouches. More than 10,000 of them will be given to the community.


“You put those drugs inside, you fill it halfway full with warm tap water, you leave it open for about 20 seconds for the air to come out of the carbon – it’s extremely porous so you just want that air to escape,” said Deterra System CEO Jason Sundby. Then, you zip it closed, shake it a couple of times and throw it away in your trash. “It takes about 20 seconds to use our product in your bathroom to get rid of these drugs and prevent these terrible tragedies that can and do happen,” said Sundby.


The University of Michigan Surgery Center found that by providing Deterra with an Opioid prescription after surgery, people were 43 times more likely to safely dispose of the drugs. “What we are trying to accomplish is to prevent them from abusing these drugs in the first place.”


Rali Indiana and Code 3 are also working to provide resources to families in our area. They’ve created a trailer to look like a teenager’s bedroom filled with hidden warning signs of substance misuse. And this year they’re offering virtual tours.


“I can’t tell you the number of locations parents see it– in their kids’ cars, their bedrooms, trash cans, their vacuums, washer, dryers, you would be shocked at the places it shows up,” said Code 3 Association Executive Director Joseph Abdalla. “None of us can do all of this on our own,” said Savage. “And prevention is so important and a lot of people believe in that.”


The 525 Foundation will be giving out Deterra pouches to those participating in National Drug Take Back Day on October 24.