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DEA boosting Southwest Ohio operations in renewed push for Rx drug take-back

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Posted at 8:00 AM, Apr 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 14:05:51-04

NORWOOD, Ohio — This week, agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency are hoping to collect unused prescription drugs, and they said they're expecting a record-setting haul due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The DEA is changing how its agents work in the Cincinnati area. What used to be an office run by agents in Columbus, Ohio, who were responsible for three cities and dozens of counties in between now has its own boss and better resources.

The biggest concern for DEA Cincinnati-Dayton special agent in charge Steve Miller is opioids -- specifically fentanyl -- and the ongoing risk of loneliness and isolation as social distancing protocols remain in place for the second spring season in a row.

"There is some thought out there that isolation is leading to an uptick in mental illness," Miller said. "With that would come possibly more prescriptions being prescribed, and with those prescriptions there, again, there may be opportunities for diversion," or someone using a drug that was not prescribed for them.

Miller said he hopes the DEA's restructuring in the region will allow for better enforcement and prevention of overdose deaths.

"What it allows is a little more specific focus to Cincinnati and Dayton," Miller said. "So, when you have Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, you're taking your resources and kind of diluting them because your landscape's a little broader. So when you narrow down your area of responsibility, it allows for more focused effort."

Law enforcement agencies across the Tri-State will be participating in the DEA's next National Take Back Day on Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Find the nearest drop-off location through the DEA's map portal here.