Between 2015 and 2018, opioid deaths in DuPage County almost doubled, from 51 reported deaths in 2015 to 98 deaths in 2018. In an effort to reverse this alarming trend, four DuPage County Republican State Representatives are partnering with DuPage Sheriff James Mendrick to fight the epidemic through distribution of a new, easy-to-use drug disposal system.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), along with State Representatives Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst), Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) and Amy Grant (R-Wheaton), are helping Mendrick distribute disposable bags that deactivate the harmful ingredients in opioid pills or patches. According to Mendrick, individuals with leftover opioids simply have to put them into the bag, add water, and shake. A drug deactivation system then breaks down the drugs to a point where they can safely be thrown in the trash. Mendrick said any leftover prescription of up to 45 pills or six fentanyl patches can be destroyed in the pouches. The disposal bags were made available to the sheriff’s office free of charge through a grant obtained by the Illinois Sheriffs Association.
“The majority of those who abuse opioids are finding the drugs in medicine cabinets,” said Leader Durkin. “These leftover pain pills represent the starting point of an opioid addition. Providing a free and safe way for people to dispose of their unused medications will go far in preventing opioid addictions and overdoses.”
Rob Reynolds, Director of Advocacy for Verde Technologies, which produces the drug deactivation bags, said the use of the pouches for opioid disposal will save lives. “Once it’s I the pouch, it’s permanently unavailable for abuse or diversion,” Reynolds said. “Secondly, it makes it safe to throw in the household trash without having to worry about pharmaceutical waste entering the water system.”
“I thank Sherriff Mendrick for identifying a simple and safe way to dispose of harmful opioids for district residents,” said Representative Mazzochi. “I am happy to support a program that reduces the risk of medication as an addiction vector.”
“In his short time as Sheriff of DuPage County, Sheriff James Mendrick has shown excellent leadership in fighting the scourge of opioid abuse in our county,” said Representative Wehrli. “I’m honored to partner with him on this program that will save lives by reducing opportunities for opioids to fall into the wrong hands.”
“Too many people have access to pain medication that has not been properly prescribed to them,” added Representative Grant. “We must do everything we can to fight this epidemic, and making these drug deactivation bags readily available is a great preventative tool. Gangs seeking to make profits off opioids adds to the threat. Our county must take fast action and invest in battling the opioid epidemic from every angle.”
The free opioid deactivation bags are available at the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, at the legislators’ community outreach events, and at all four of the Representatives’ district offices:
- Representative Jim Durkin: 16W281 83rd Street, Suite C, Burr Ridge, IL
- Representative Deanne Mazzochi: 1 S. Cass Avenue, Westmont Centre, Suite 205, Westmont, IL
- Representative Grant Wehrli: 55 S. Main Street, Suite 383, Naperville, IL
- Representative Amy Grant: 211 E. Illinois Street, Wheaton, IL