Prescription drug abuse is a growing national epidemic. This growth is fueled in part by misconceptions about prescription drug safety and increased availability. Research shows that over 50% of people who obtained prescription drugs for non-medical use received them from a friend or relative at no cost while another 15% bought or took them from a friend or relative.
Community members can help in the effort to reduce prescription drug abuse rates by properly disposing of medications through participation in the St. Mary's County Medication Drop-Off Program. Through this program, residents may safely dispose of unused or expired medications in the collection boxes that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the front lobby of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office in Leonardtown. Any unwanted medications, prescribed or over-the-counter, may be discarded in the drop-box, and all deposits through this program are completely anonymous.
Proper disposal of prescription medications protects our community in many ways. It prevents poisoning of children and pets, deters misuse and abuse by youth and adults, and avoids health problems from accidentally taking the wrong medicine, too much of the same medicine, or a medicine that is too old to work well. The primary goal of community medication collection is to keep controlled dangerous substances (CDS) off the streets. Examples of controlled dangerous substances include narcotics, antidepressants, and stimulants that are manufactured for legitimate medical use but have the potential for misuse or abuse.
Since the medication collection began in 2011, numerous medications have been safely disposed of and diverted from potential misuse in the community.
Captain Daniel D. Alioto, Commander St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office, Vice Narcotics states, "The success of the program is notable. Through partnerships, prevention presentations, and community participation nearly 800,000 unwanted medications, of which 70% are controlled dangerous substances, have been collected. As a direct result of the program, more than half a million controlled dangerous substances have been diverted from the hands of drug seekers.”
Opportunities for safe disposal include:
· St. Mary's County Medication Drop-Off Program – Collection boxes in the front lobby of the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office in Leonardtown. Available 24/7.
· April 30, 2016 – Pick-up for homebound residents. Call 301-475-4200, ext*1073 for more information.
· Friday, October 21, 2016, Department of Aging & Human Services, “Way to Wellness” Health Fair, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.
Photo: The St. Mary’s County Medication Drop Boxes and coordinating partners
Pictured from left to right: Dr. Meenakshi Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer; Jenna Mulliken, Local Health Improvement Coordinator; Captain Daniel Alioto, Commander of Vice/Narcotics for St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office; Tim Cameron, St. Mary’s County Sheriff; Kendall Wood, Opioid Misuse Prevention Program Coordinator; and Maryellen Kraese, St. Mary’s County Prevention Coordinator.
The St. Mary's County Medication Drop-Off Program is one of the many prevention initiatives that is supported by the Behavioral Health Action Team (BHAT) of the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership. The BHAT is comprised of community members and organizations working together to improve behavioral health (mental health and substance misuse) outcomes for all St. Mary’s County residents. Special thanks to the following partners for their continued commitment to the prescription medication collection initiative: St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, St. Mary’s County Department of Aging & Human Services, St. Mary’s County Health Department and MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.