Operation Medicine Cabinet XV flyer SMALLLLLLLLLWhether it is called an epidemic or a crisis, the opioid problem that has grown across America can be reversed by communities’ conversations and participation in drug take back events. By gathering old and expired medications and dropping them off at the upcoming Operation Medicine Cabinet XV event, a life here in Saline County might even be saved.

Operation Medicine Cabinet XV, which is part of the Arkansas Drug Take Back Day, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Ferguson’s Furniture, located at 1200 Ferguson Drive in Benton. People are encouraged to drop off expired or unused medications at the event. Officers will not ask for any identification or other questions regarding the prescriptions being dropped off. Medications can also be dropped into a 24/7 drop box located at the front of the Benton Police Department, located at 114 S. East St. The prescription medications will later be counted for statistical purposes and destroyed at a facility in an environmentally safe manner.

This Arkansas Drug-Take-Back day is dedicated to the memory of Nicholas “Cheezy” Alexander Kellar who was born January 7, 1994 in Fort Gordon, Georgia. He was only 23 when he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose following a long, hard battle with addiction. He was the son of Rory and Suzanne Tipton.

Information about this event will also be shared on various Benton Police Department social media pages (including Facebook: Benton Police Department, Twitter: Benton Police Dept., and Instagram: bentonpolicear) with the following hashtag: #SaveALife and website link: The Benton Police Department has partnership with Arkansas Take Back, which is the promotion of drug-take-back events to be held throughout Arkansas.

There were 349 drug overdose deaths in Arkansas in 2014 and that number decreased to 287 drug overdose deaths in 2015, a reduction of 18 percent. But in 2016, the number increased by 17 percent at 335 drug overdose deaths in Arkansas. In Saline County, there have been 26 deaths caused by a drug overdose between 2014 and 2016.

The highest amount of drug overdose deaths each year in Arkansas were in Pulaski County (79 in 2014, 67 in 2015, and 77 in 2016). Across the U.S. drug overdose deaths have hit an all-time record exceeding vehicle fatalities by 150 percent. More than 143 people in America die each day due to a drug overdose. The rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (heroin and prescription opioids – oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and other pain relievers) has increased by 200 percent since 2000.

On an average day in the U.S: more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed; 3,900 people initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids; 580 people initiate heroin use; and 78 people died from opioid-related overdose. A large portion of people who abuse prescription opioids report that they obtained them in the homes of loved ones, including 42 percent of teenagers obtaining prescription medicines from their parent’s medicine cabinet.

Also, 64 percent of teenagers (age 12-17) that have abused prescription pain relievers say they got them from friends or relatives. About two-thirds of all prescription drugs (which also include stimulants such as Adderall and depressants like Ativan) illegally obtained are taken from people’s homes and not pharmacies or off the street.

The medicines collected will be handled by law enforcement officers and will then be disposed in an environmentally safe manner. The protection of the environment is another reason to participate in Operation Medicine Cabinet.

Medicines are a special type of hazardous chemical which are not safe in solid waste systems and landfills. Drugs can be very toxic for people and wildlife, even in low doses. Just as we do not put used motor oil or leftover paint thinner in the trash, we should not put these extremely potent pharmaceutical chemicals into unsecured curbside trash cans.

We encourage parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drug usage, because education is the key to helping us make a difference in our community. We can further reduce the lives this problem destroys by simply educating those around us and by taking time to secure and dispose of old medications.  

For more information and for a list of locations across the state where medicines can be dropped off, visit