The Follow Our Lead coalition held a ribbon cutting during this week’s Earth Day events at Weatherford College for a permanent medication drop box that will be located inside the WC Campus Police Department.
This permanent prescription drop box is a safe, simple, secure and environmentally-friendly way to help law enforcement agencies and communities collect unwanted or expired household medications, including prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
Lisa Sullivan, Diversion Program Manager, and Deborah Carrillo, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, both from the Dallas division of the Drug Enforcement Administration were present for the event along with John Haenes, Chief Operating Officer for Challenge of Tarrant County, which oversees the local Follow Our Lead program.
“Most people don’t realize this, but there are more people that have issues with pharmaceuticals and overdoses than there are of cocaine, heroine and ecstasy combined,” Sullivan said. “The majority of these accidental poisonings generally come from the medicine cabinets in our homes – the drugs we no longer need or have even forgotten are there.”
According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. The CDC reports that one person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the U.S. through prescription pain killers.
The DEA National Takeback Drugs event takes place Saturday, April 28. In addition to the WC location, local residents can drop off unwanted medications at the Weatherford High School Ninth Grade Center front parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The permanent prescription drop box at WC will provide an ongoing opportunity for the Weatherford community to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths by ensuring that unused or expired prescription drugs do not find their way into the wrong hands. Additionally, the drop box allows for safe disposal of prescription medications, which are all too often thrown in the trash or down the sink, which poses a hazard to the community. If not properly handled, these drugs can pollute the environment and contaminate water supplies.
“We’re absolutely in the middle of a public health epidemic with opioids,” said Katherine Neale, Follow Our Lead program director. “Young people are particularly vulnerable, and for many, their first access to these drugs is in the family medicine cabinet. Safe use, safe storage and safe disposal of all medication in our homes has to be a priority for all of us.”
The prescription drug drop box is designed for year-round disposal and will be installed in the Weatherford College Police Department.
Follow Our Lead (FOL) is a community coalition at WC whose mission is to address policies and utilize environmental strategies that reduce the risks and harmful effects of alcohol and substance misuse within the community, thus positively impacting individual perceptions, the campus culture, and the student experience.