Deactivating deadly drugs throughout Maryland
Maryland, proudly nicknamed the “Free State,” is gripped hard by America’s opioid crisis. The state, which boasts the highest median income in the U.S., also has the sixth-highest drug overdose mortality rate behind West Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Incidentally, more Leidos employees live in Maryland than any other state including Virginia, where the company is headquartered. In fact, roughly 20 percent of all Leidos employees call Maryland home. Not surprisingly, in our campaign to fight the opioid crisis, Leidos has placed a strong emphasis here.
On Saturday, in an impressive logistical feat, Maryland National Guard trucks distributed roughly 100,000 Deterra® drug deactivation kits from the Aberdeen Proving Ground to first responders throughout the state. The event was overseen by Major General Randy S. Taylor, Commanding General, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, with the help of Leidos, CADCA, the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center, and more than 40 state and local agencies.
“We hope this partnership will be a model for other communities and companies of how to not only enhance local prevention efforts, but also increase community awareness about the dangers of substance use,” said Leidos Chairman and CEO Roger Krone.
Unused pharmaceuticals are a threat to those around you, and discarding them is an important prevention measure. The Journal of the American Medical Association warns unused prescriptions are an “important reservoir of opioids available for nonmedical use that could cause injuries or even deaths.” These pills, if not stored or disposed of properly, can unintentionally fall into the wrong hands. Improperly discarded drugs are also a threat to the environment, and measurable amounts of flushed chemicals have been found in U.S. lakes and rivers.
Prevention efforts are needed now more than ever. Drug overdose claims roughly 150 American lives every day, making it more deadly than gun violence or automobile accidents. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. If you have leftover pills in your possession, you should get rid of them responsibly. Every pill discarded properly is a pill that cannot poison our communities.
“The most important thing everyone can do to fight the opioid crisis is to educate themselves and take some small action,” said Chris Green, head of branding at Leidos. “Look in your medicine cabinet and ask your friends to do the same. Get rid of unused prescriptions so they don’t fall into the wrong hands. If you know someone who is addicted, get them help.”
Marylanders grappling with a substance abuse disorder can find help at BeforeItsTooLateMD.org and 1-800-422-0009, the state crisis hotline. Read more of our reporting on the opioid epidemic here.