OBN shares progress with decade old ‘drug take back’ program


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Authorities say thousands of pounds of medication have been safely destroyed over the years thanks to a drug take back program.

“I’ll say it and probably with more stress today than I did 10 years ago; it only takes a few of these pills to kill someone,” said Oklahoma Sen. Darrell Weaver. 

It was a profound message from Sen. Weaver on Thursday as the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics gave updates as to where our state stands in overdose deaths. 

It was a decade ago they partnered with energy company Covanta to get prescription drugs off the streets. 

They set up drop-off boxes in each county of our state. 

Photo goes with story
A drug takeback drop-off box.

Over the last 10 years, 112 tons of these medications have been driven to Covanta in Tulsa and safely destroyed. That equals about 60 pounds of drugs a day. 

“You get a prescription. Think about how much a prescription like that weighs and how many of these it would take to make up 60 pounds every day for 10 years,” said Patrick Walsh, with Covanta Energy.

The agency credits Oklahomans who are cleaning out their cabinets and staying educated on how deadly these drugs can be. 

Data shows since 2016, the number of prescription drug overdose deaths have dropped significantly. 

It shows a -12.2% when it comes to Oxycodone deaths, and a -33.3% for Morphine deaths. 

“Any one of these pills of those 112 tons could’ve been fatal,” said OBN spokesperson Mark Woodward. 

The trend is drastically different for drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl. 

Fentanyl overdose deaths have surged over 151% in the last five years. 

They hit a high in 2020, at 136 deaths, while meth killed 624 Oklahomans last year. 

“Our overdose deaths, the fatalities that we are seeing, are contributed to our drugs that are coming from clandestine laboratories that are not pharmaceutical grade,” said OBN Director Donnie Anderson. 

There’s no way to tell just how many lives this public-private partnership has saved but all parties involved say just one life is worth it. 

To find the drop-off box closest to you, visit OBN’s website.

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