LONG BEACH On May 15, local law enforcement, elected officials, and community advocates gathered at the Long Beach Police Department to see a new addition installed in the departments lobby a prescription drug collection box.
The box, which is similar to a mail drop, will be available for anyone to securely dispose of old medications year around, so that the community does not have to wait for the twice-yearly drug take-back events that are held on the Peninsula.
This cost $1,000, said WellSpring Community Network board chair and Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright. WellSpring paid a third, the city of Long Beach paid a third and Peninsula Pharmacies paid a third. It was definitely a community collaborative effort to do this.
According to Wright, the abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise locally and throughout the country. He hopes that by having a regular designated drop-off site available, it will keep prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands, as well as deter people from flushing medications down the toilet, as they can do harm to the water system. All medications that are collected are secured and sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration to be incinerated.
According to WellSpring, some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and dispensed by a pharmacist.
The Centers 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.
WellSprings effort to keep prescription drugs out of the hands of our youth and 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, more productive lives.