Sheriff using drug deactivation pouches to fight opioid crisis

There's a new way to dispose of powerful drugs in just seconds, specifically those left-over prescriptions that might be sitting in your medicine cabinet. They can start an addiction.

Many of us have them, those powerful prescriptions from maybe that back injury or surgery that we don't need anymore.

Now, the DuPage County Sheriff wants to destroy them.

“Pretty much what everyone has been saying is that I just don't believe we haven't been using something like this already,” said Sheriff James Mendrick, DuPage County. 

Sheriff Mendrick's new prescription for fighting the opioid crisis is to hand out pouches, many pouches.

“I got about 17,000 units, all grant money, completely free,” Sheriff Mendrick’s said. 

You toss in pills, add water and shake. Then let the Deterra drug deactivation system do its thing.

“Once it's in the pouch, it's permanently unavailable for abuse or diversion,” said Rob Reynolds, Director of Advocacy for Verde Technologies. “The second thing it does, it makes it safe to throw in the household trash without having to worry about pharmaceutical entering into the water system." 

The Minneapolis company behind Deterra says 70 percent of prescribed opioids go unused and leftover in medicine cabinets.

“We know that people abusing opioids, 80 percent at least get them out of medicine cabinets from their friends and family,” said Reynolds.

That can lead to heroin use and other crimes. So, Sheriff Mendrick decided he needed to act.

“Law enforcement needs to play a larger role than just arresting people,” said Reynolds.

The DuPage County Sheriff is adding more drug education for kids and providing drop off spots for old medicine. They are also recycling hundreds of pounds of old syringes, and now adding Deterra pouches as they fight the opioid crisis on many fronts.

“We're trying to offer so many different options that maybe one will stick,” said Sheriff Mendrick.

Sheriff Mendrick would like to see all prescriptions, especially for serious painkillers, to come with a Deterra pouch.

Until then, he's handing the bags out or even delivering them in DuPage county.