Fort Worth

Feds send warning in DFW about dangers of opioid abuse

Federal law enforcement agencies continue putting the word out about the opioid abuse problem affecting people in North Texas and nationwide.

Authorities discussed ongoing efforts to raise awareness about painkiller prescription drug abuse and remind area residents about Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Cinemark movie theater in the Alliance Town Center.

“If you think prescription pills are a safe alternative to heroin, you’d actually be dead wrong,” said U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Parker said that 30,000 people a year die from opioid abuse nationwide and that the majority of them get the pills from family members, friends and home medicine cabinets.

Parker urged people to keep prescription painkillers out of reach of anyone but the person for whom they are prescribed and to properly dispose of leftover pills. Saturday’s event, being held in cities around North Texas, gives residents a safe place to dispose of unused prescription drugs. (They should not be flushed down the toilet.)

National take-back days are intended to address a vital public safety and public health issue, as rates of opioid abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs, authorities have said.

Items that will be accepted include prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, veterinary medications, vitamins, minerals and medicine samples. Items not accepted include oxygen tanks, inhalers and nebulizers, needles, sharp items, thermometers and IV bags. Participants are asked to keep medicines in original containers with personal information marked out. Participants are also asked to remain in their vehicle at all times during the drop-off process.

President Barack Obama proclaimed October to be National Youth Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder Prevention Month.

The Cinemark Alliance Town Center is running a Challenge of Tarrant County public service announcement about prescription drug abuse before each movie. The group is also promoting awareness at Keller school district football games and on Tarrant County billboards. It has conducted events in Keller and has implemented prescription drug abuse prevention campaigns throughout Keller.

Mark David Smith: 817-390-7808, @MarkSmith_FWST