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Thousands of pills collected during local Drug Take Back Day

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- A group of students from a local college joined public safety agencies all over Michiana on Saturday for the Drug Take Back program.

The graduate students with Indiana University at South Bend hosted a pill drop off event that collected over seven boxes with thousands of saved prescription pills.

“This is one of the best grassroots ways to deal with this epidemic,” said Libby Elmore, the event organizer.

This event was one of four pill take-back programs in the area – two events were held at Penn Township Fire departments and another at the Harris Township Fire Department.

Organizers of the IUSB event said they were surprised with the turnout. Early in the afternoon, the group helped over 120 cars dispose of their pills.

“I cleaned my house,” said April Lindinsky, who dropped off her leftover drugs. “We have drugs that we’re never going to use again that are frightening to have around the house.”

Some of the drugs being opioids that in the wrong hands could be deadly.

“We’ve seen enough tragic examples in our community of what happens when those drugs get into the wrong hands out of maliciousness or just ignorance,” Lindinsky said.

Commander David Wells with St. Joseph County’s Drug Investigation Unit picked up pill boxes from events all over Michiana. He said this is the largest haul he’s seen, the first wave of pickups over 100 lbs.

However, he said he was most concerned with the amount of fentanyl, in the form of patches, received. Fentanyl used in combination with heroin is deadly, according to Wells.

Most of the drugs were given to people after life-saving procedures, now the drugs could be life threatening.

“You may have visitors, the kids may have kids over visitors,” said Wells. “And because you haven’t seen or paid attention to these drugs in a long time, those are taken.”

Elmore said drug use in South Bend has nearly doubled in the past five years.

“The younger you start using more substance,” she said. “The more likely you are to become addicted to it and the harder it is going to be for you to stop.”

Elmore said the pill drop off events are a huge help in trying to end serious addictions. One man who dropped off his pills said the process was easy and simple.

“My expectations have been blown out of the water,” Elmore said. “It gives me hope that we can start doing other grassroots thing that will start working on this epidemic.”

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