Drug Take Back Day crucial in midst of Northeast Ohio opioid epidemic

The Ed Keating Center is a sober living facility on the west side of Cleveland. (Source: WOIO)
The Ed Keating Center is a sober living facility on the west side of Cleveland. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The opioid epidemic continues to overwhelm recovery facilities in Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio.

And for many, addiction starts with pain pills.

The numbers are staggering.

More than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs, and most of them get them from the medicine cabinet of family and friends.

You can help prevent drug addiction and deadly overdoses with one simple step, properly disposing of any unused pain pills in your medicine cabinet.

Sadly, many local families know firsthand how heartbreaking addiction can be.

This April marks three years since Nancy Krasienko of Lorain lost her 30-year-old daughter Megan to an opioid overdose.

Now Nancy is raising Megan's two children herself.

"Our hearts are broken forever. We are broken people. But you can recover," she said.

Megan was hooked on painkillers.

Nancy will always remember what she found in her house the day after she died.

"I open the drawer, there's all these pill bottles. I'm like aww, no these can't be here. My grand kids come here. I got a freezer bag, I threw all of them in there, like 13 pill bottles," Krasienko said.

Nancy says drug take back programs can make it harder for addicts to get their fix.

"If you're not using it, get rid of it, plain and simple," she said.

30 miles away in Cleveland, recovery facilities are always booked.

Martin Taft is the director of the Ed Keating Center.

He says painkillers are the root of addiction for 75 percent or more of the men who walk through these doors.

Taft sees people who have hit rock bottom.

"They threw their whole lives away. They're distraught, they're angry, they're lost," he said.

The heroin epidemic claims lives every day.

But here, Taft says addicts stand a chance, because they don't give up on people.

"There's a saying we have-- this is where the unloved are loved," Taft said.

A few pills can start a life-long battle with addiction.

But with the right treatment, and people behind you, Taft says there is hope.

"We as a whole need to really care, and it's affecting all of us," he said.

Last fall, Americans turned in 912,000 pounds of prescription drugs at thousands of "take back" sites across the country.

Police stations, city halls and medical providers are participating in the program.

The DEA has posted dozens of sites by zip code here.

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