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On National Prescription Drug Take Back Day late last month, Howard County collected 1,262 pounds of unwanted and expired over-the-counter and prescription medicines, a “record-breaking” amount, according to the organization in charge of the event.

HC DrugFree, a nonprofit providing resources and education on prevention, treatment, recovery, and health and wellness to county residents, collected the medicine — along with needles, syringes and EpiPens — on Oct. 26 at the Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia.

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Joan Webb Scornaienchi, executive director of HC DrugFree, said in an email the event brought in a “record-breaking” amount of medications.

Community members were able to drop off their unwanted drugs and paraphernalia during a four-hour collection drive at the village center.

At the group’s previous National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27, HC DrugFree collected 993 pounds of medication.

As of Oct. 27, Howard had recorded 23 fatal overdoses for 2019, 18 of which were opioid-related, and 135 non-fatal overdoses, according to the Howard County Police Department.

Last year, there were 29 fatal overdoses and 150 non-fatal overdoses by the end of October, police said.

Focusing on five goals in addressing the opioid crisis, Howard County looks to: reduce the rate of overdose deaths; reduce the rate of not-fatal overdoses; increase the rate of county residents entering treatment for substance use disorder; reduce the number of emergency department visits for opioid related incidents; and reduce the rate of opioids prescribed to patients.

In 2018, the county experienced a reduction in fatal opioid-related overdoses while non-fatal overdoses increased, according to data released earlier this year by the Howard County Department of Health. Howard recorded 187 non-fatal overdoses and 41 fatal — 31 of those being opioid-related — in 2018.

The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for April in Howard County.

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