On July 16th, the Teen Advocacy Coalition and Sheriff Scott Johnson gathered at the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office to see a new addition outside the facility: a prescription drug collection box. The box, which is similar to a mail drop, will be available for anyone to securely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medications year around, so that the community does not have to wait for the biannual community drug take-back events.
“We are very happy to be able to provide the prescription drop box as part of our Drug Free Communities grant,” stated Emily Popovich, board chair for the Teen Advocacy Coalition (TAC) of north Pacific County. “We also appreciate the collaboration with the Pacific County Sheriff’s department and Sheriff Johnson to be able to have a place to permanently place the drop box to give the community a safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs. “
According to Sheriff Johnson, research shows the abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise locally and throughout the country .The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that nearly one-third of people age 12 and over who used drugs for the first time began by using a prescription drug non-medically.
According to TAC chair Emily Popovich, some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs.
“This assumption stems from the fact that the drugs are prescribed by a healthcare professional,” Popovich said. “Students feel that if the drug comes from a pharmacy, it’s safe for anyone to use.”
Having a regular drop-off site will, hopefully, prevent prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands, and reduce the supply of dangerous drugs in our communities. It also works as a deterrent to citizens from flushing medications down the toilet, as they can do harm to the water system. Also, through a partnership between the Pacific County Sheriff’s Department and the Lewis County Sherriff’s Department, all medications that are collected are secured by law enforcement and will be incinerated in an EPA approved incinerator.
TAC’s efforts, along with local law enforcement, to keep prescription drugs out of the hands of youth and out of our environment is a result of building community partnerships and leveraging scarce resources in order to help keep our youth healthy and safe. The group believes that addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic is not only a top priority for public health, but it will also help build stronger communities and allow those with substance abuse disorders to lead healthier and more productive lives.