State, County and Federal law enforcement agencies are stepping up their fight against opioid-related deaths in Hawai’i.
A year-round medication drop-box program is being implemented on the Big Island, Maui, O’ahu and Kaua’i. The statewide public safety and public health initiative will provide a convenient way for residents to drop off unused medications. Lieutenant Governor Doug Chin…the former state attorney general…says it was mandated by the state legislature last year and is being implemented 6 months early …
“Each drop box is made of 14 gauge powder coated steel and it weighs 150 pounds. Once each county department designates a location for the drop box, they’re bolted into place and have installed in 9 different locations across the state.”
The drop boxes are part of a 2 million dollar federal grant program over the next two years that will increase to 4 million after 2020. It’s aimed at prescription opioid medications. Department of Health Director, Bruce Anderson.
“There are more than 115 people per day that die from opioid overdoses in the United States. In Hawai’i, we have approximately 80 people per year who die from prescription opioids. This past year there was a decline in opioid deaths, probably attributable to the aggressive actions the state has taken to try to get this crisis under control.”
The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration conducts a medication take-back program twice a year and the local year-round collection will add to that effort. Maui Police Chief Tivoli Fa’aumu.
“For this year alone, during the take-back program, we had boxed up 17 boxes. Total weight of 224 pounds of medicine that we shipped to the Narcotic Enforcement for proper disposal.”
The Big Island has 3 drop boxes at Police Stations in Hilo, Pahoa and Kona. Kaua’i has one drop box located at the Lihue police station and the first one on O’ahu is at the State Narcotics Enforcement Division on Koapaka Street. Lieutenant Governor Chin says more will be added as locations are identified by law enforcement.
“This program keeps unused medication out of the wrong hands. It keeps it away from children or from teenagers or from others who should not be using this unused medications. This program will also help deter the public from discarding expired medicine in the trash or down the toilet which pollutes the environment and pollutes our water supply.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.