Deterra bag distribution aimed to decrease opioid abuse on West Side

At the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9, rows of Deterra medical disposal bags were provided free of charge for community members in the basement of New Mt. Pilgrim Church.  Photo By: Julia Mondschean

At the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9, rows of Deterra medical disposal bags were provided free of charge for community members in the basement of New Mt. Pilgrim Church.

Photo By: Julia Mondschean

 
alt text By Julia Mondschean, Criminal Justice Reporter, The Real Chi
 
 

When Brenda Cargile first learned about the Deterra medical disposal bags, she took a handful home and went straight to her closet. There on the shelf was a shoebox filled with old medications she didn’t know how to get rid of.

She started keeping the medicine there instead of throwing it in the trash or flushing it down the toilet after learning about the hazards of improper disposal.

“I found out that that medicine accumulates and it goes into our drinking water and that's not good,” she said. “It hurts the babies, it hurts to fish — you know. It hurts the water period, so these bags is a blessing.”

The bags, brought to her attention by Rev. Walter A. Jones, were the perfect solution.

“I feel so good about doing it that way,” she said last week while setting up lunch at the Garfield Park Community Stakeholders meeting, of which Jones is president. At a table near the entrance of the New Mt. Pilgrim Church basement in West Garfield Park, rows of the glossy black and blue Deterra bags lay in plain view, free to all.  

“The whole purpose of the bag is to reduce opioid use,” Jones said. “This bag with, with water added will deactivate the medicine and then you can throw the bags in the garbage can.”

The efforts to help people properly dispose their unused medication are partially rooted in the idea that if medicine containing opiates isn’t lying around the house, kids and teenagers won’t be tempted to try it out.

“So we've been working with organizations across the country to give these bags out,” Jones said, mentioning a local organization called Fathers Who Care and the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Anyone who would like a free Deterra bag can contact the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders at 773.287.5821 or westsidecommunitystakeholders@gmail.com.