250 Pounds of Pills Collected at Prescription Drug Take Back Events

Oct 27, 2021Press Release

COOK COUNTY, IL – The Cook County Sheriff’s Office collected 250 pounds of unused prescription drugs during its weekend National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events, which allows residents to safely dispose of potentially harmful medications, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

Saturday’s event at the Ogilvie Transportation Center, a joint effort between the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Chicago Field Division, and Metra, was part of the National Drug Take Back initiative. Similar events took place in Bridgeport/Chinatown, South Suburban Crete, and Southwest Suburban Tinley Park.

The events offered free and anonymous disposal of potentially dangerous expired and unused prescription drugs from homes, to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

“Unfortunately, what we see time and again is that individuals – particularly young people – turn not to a drug dealer, but to the medicine cabinets in their homes, or at a friend’s or loved one’s home,” Sheriff Dart said. “We want to provide a way for people to join the fight against drug addiction, poisoning, and fatal overdoses, and it’s as simple as getting rid of unneeded medications in an easy and free way.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a majority of people who misused a prescription medication obtained the medicine from a family member or friend. For years, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office has been working in close partnership with the DEA in the battle against substance abuse and misuse to help curb this disconcerting trend.

“The success of DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events is not possible without the strong partnerships established with law enforcement agencies like the Cook County Sheriff’s Department,” said Robert J. Bell, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Division. “The large amounts of unwanted prescription drugs collected on Take Back Day reflect our shared commitment to the safety and health of our communities.”

This is Metra Chicago’s first time collaborating with the Cook County Sheriff’s Program.

“Metra is happy to do its part in helping the Cook County Sheriff and the DEA prevent the misuse of prescription medications and provide safe disposal of these items,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Jim Derwinski. “While this is our first year assisting with the National Drug Take Back, we hope to continue this partnership with the Sheriff in the years to come as part of My Metra’s commitment to safety and the communities we serve.”

In addition to events like the ones on Saturday, the Sheriff’s Office offers prescription drug take back throughout Cook County year-round through 88 monitored and permanent drop-off sites, as well as a mail-in service for seniors and homebound individuals. Residents can also take advantage of other recycling opportunities by getting rid of old personal electronics that the office sends to a responsible recycler as well as outdated personal records for shredding.

Since 2017, the program has collected and properly disposed of more than 136,000 pounds of prescription and non-prescription drugs, including 36,634 pounds so far this year and 32,564 pounds in 2020.
You can learn more about the program by calling our toll-free phone number 1-84-GOT USD RX (1-844-688-7379) or visit www.cookcountysheriffil.gov/rx/home.