As pandemic-related stress may be fueling crisis, events corresponded with DEA “Take Back Day” to educate community about safe, proper disposal of opioids.

HCA Midwest Health's hospitals including Centerpoint Medical Center, Lee’s Summit Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center hosted a “Crush the Crisis” Opioid Take Back Day on October 24, 2020 to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid misuse and proper disposal of medications. Community members were invited to safely and anonymously dispose of unused or expired prescription medications. The event aligned with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

The events collected a record, more than 700 pounds of medication during these collaborative events.

Opioid addiction is a national health crisis. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 67,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2018, with more than half attributed to opioids.

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid addiction continues to be a crisis not only in the Kansas City area, but across our nation,” says HCA Midwest Health Chief Medical Officer Kimberly Megow, M.D. “Our goal for ‘Crush the Crisis’ was to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid addiction and educate our community about the proper disposal of these medications. Opioid addiction can happen to anyone, and we provided this drop-off opportunity, confidentially and anonymously. We’re pleased that our community stepped up to safely dispose of unused and expired medication and opioids.”

Stress related to the pandemic may be exacerbating the opioid crisis by causing many Americans to have feelings of anxiety, grief, isolation, financial worry and an ongoing sense of uncertainty. For every 10 suspected overdoes reported to the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) in May 2019, 14 overdoses were reported in May 2020. Since the pandemic began, 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).