ASAC: Not Enough People Know About Drug Drop Boxes

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

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By Jill Kasparie

LINN COUNTY, Iowa - The Area Substance Abuse Council's team of prevention specialists has a growing concern.

They're starting to notice that not enough people know about prescription drug drop boxes. It's an issue they're dealing with as they try to stop a growing trend. Prevention specialists said across the country, including here at home, more teens are abusing prescription drugs. According to the Iowa Youth Survey, 16 percent of Linn County 11th graders see little risk in using medication prescribed for someone else. Twenty-one percent of 6th graders said the same thing.

Prescription Drug Drop Boxes are popping up in many places.

"All kinds of different types of drugs: There's over-the-counter drugs, there’s narcotic drugs, you know, painkillers,” said Mount Vernon Police Chief Mark Winder.

Chief Winder said his office has had its drop box for about six months. He said people use it all of the time to drop off unused or expired prescription drugs.

The Area Substance Abuse Council or ASAC said, however, not enough is coming in.

"I would say there's probably a lot more that we need to dispose of here in Linn County,” said ASAC Certified Prevention Specialist Lindsey Ungs.

Ungs said the problem is that drop boxes are so new people don't know they're out there. She said even places that distribute prescription drugs didn't know.

"When I’ve talked to pharmacists, they said 'oh I didn't realize that you guys had these drop boxes in place yet,” Ungs said.

So, they're stepping up to create more awareness. They're giving out more pamphlets and making plans to give pharmacies information to pass out. Some pharmacies are also starting to push the message by word of mouth.

"Now we do tell patients that come in with a whole bunch of prescriptions or if they come in with controlled substances that they can go to the Mount Vernon Police Department and drop off those prescriptions there,” Pharmacy Resident at Shepley Pharmacy Alex Martin.

Five drop boxes can be found in Linn County at the Linn County Sheriff's office, Marion, Mount Vernon, Lisbon and Cedar Rapids Police Departments.

It's all an effort to stop teens from abusing prescription drugs.

"We see it as an issue, and we see it on the rise,” Ungs said.

ASAC said, by law, they have to place the drug drop boxes in law enforcement buildings. Another one is soon-coming to Hiawatha's Police Department.

Many pharmacies have a program where they can accept some unused prescriptions, but they cannot accept some of the highly addictive ones, like Hydrocodone.

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