Pill drop-off box at mid-Michigan football games

opioids, oxycontin
This file photo shows the opioid OxyContin at a pharmacy.

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — In an effort to fight the opioid overdose epidemic plaguing the nation, authorities in mid-Michigan will be offering high school football spectators the chance to get rid of pills.

Heroin-related deaths are on the rise in the Lansing area. In Ingham County alone, there were 77 overdose deaths in 2016, which is up from 15 in 2007, according to WOOD TV8’s Lansing sister station WLNS. To fight the trend, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department and Lansing Police Department are thinking out of the box and going into the community to get opioids out of the hands of users.

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said law enforcement will start bringing a mobile pill receptacle to various community events. The departments will start by rolling out the receptacle at high school football games, and eventually work with communities to help its reach go even further.

Here’s a list of the games where law enforcement will be present with the mobile pill receptacle:

– Holt vs. Grandville (8-24-17)
– Webberville vs. Covert (8-31-17)
– Everett vs. Sexton (9-8-17)
– Leslie vs. Stockbridge (9-15-17)
– Eastern vs. East Lansing (9-22-17)
– Sexton vs. Everett (10-20-17)

“We as law enforcement will come to large community events, and ask that our community does their part to get these pills out of our homes and disposed of properly,” Wriggelsworth said.

The sheriff said many of the heroin addicts he’s talked to all say they got started with pills.

“A lot of these addicts start with simple oral surgery, tonsils and wisdom teeth, and they get put on this pain medication,” Wriggelsworth said. “Then within two weeks they’re addicted to these opiates.”

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Sgt. Ryan Wilcox with the Lansing Police Department says that by using the new mobile drop-off, law enforcement can get to people early and help prevent them from becoming addicts in the first place.

“If the parent was holding it for, ‘Well, I need it down the road,’ well instead why don’t we put it in this box so your kid or another kid that’s over with your kid doesn’t get that first taste of a drug that they’ve never had before and they start that path down the road to addiction,” Wilcox said.

An original version of this article appeared on WLNS.com.