The Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition (CCADC) has partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office and the Tullahoma Police Department to once again give the public a chance to prevent pill abuse and theft by providing a safe, convenient and reliable way to clean out medicine cabinets.
Chief Executive Officer of CCADC Margaret Cunningham encourages locals to dispose of unused medications during The Drug Takeback, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
On that day, Tullahomans will have the opportunity to bring expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to the Tullahoma Walgreens at 700 N. Jackson St. for disposal.
Residents can also dispose of pills at First Vision Bank, 2134 Hillsboro Blvd., in Manchester.
The service is free, anonymous and easy to use, said Cunningham.
Assigned volunteers will be at the sites to accommodate the public’s quick and easy disposal, said Cunningham.
In Coffee County, 81,832 opioid prescriptions were dispersed in 2017, according to Cunningham.
“With a U.S. Census Bureau population estimate of 53,496, that’s enough for every man, woman and child in Coffee County to have at least one and a half prescriptions of opioids,” Cunningham said. “On average, providers in Tennessee wrote 1.4 opioid prescriptions per person per year.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Tennessee was third in the nation for opioid prescriptions and 13th in the nation for overdose deaths, added Cunningham.
“Each day in Tennessee at least three people die from opioid-related overdoses – more than the daily number of traffic fatalities,” Cunningham said.
The opioid crisis has a negative impact on the labor market, as well.
“It was found that a 10% increase in opioid prescriptions per capita led to a 0.6 percentage point drop in labor force participation rates and a 0.1 percentage point increase in county unemployment rates,” Cunningham said, citing a recent University of Tennessee study examining county-level data from across the United States.
“The study further concluded that prescription opioids may explain up to half of the decline in labor force participation since 2000,” she said. “Local employers can confirm these statistics further emphasized by the difficulty to hire drug-free employees.”
The medicines that stay in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse, according to Cunningham.
Count It! Lock It!
To ensure those medications don’t harm anyone, the CCADC initiated the Count It! Lock It! Drop It! campaign.
The initiative aims to combat abuse and theft of medications by offering free medication lock boxes for better security of medications at home.
This campaign addresses a vital public safety and public health issue, said Cunningham.
“Parents and family friends become accidental drug dealers by leaving medications out on counters, unlocked and unmonitored,” she said. “It is important to count your pills frequently and lock them up.”
There is a permanent drop-off box at the Tullahoma Police Department, where locals can safely and anonymously dispose of unused medicines at any time.
Tyler Medley, patrol officer at the Tullahoma Police Department, urges residents to take advantage of the opportunity.
“People should bring their narcotics prescribed by the doctor once they have finished the recommended use or once the medications have expired,” Medley said.
This will ensure pills in the home won’t end up into the hands of children, said Medley.
“And people won’t break into the home to try to take [the medications],” Medley said. “We don’t want these dangerous drugs to get onto the streets and in the wrong hands.”
Law enforcement often deals with cases involving stolen medications from homes.
“I have dealt with cases where children have taken narcotics that have been left in the home,” Medley said. “We have dealt with cases where people have broken into the home to take narcotics.”
Many locals have taken advantage of the program and have disposed of their unused pills at the Tullahoma Police Department, said Medley.
“I have seen multiple people come here throughout the day,” Medley said. “It seems like almost every day somebody is here turning something in. A lot of people bring their expired medications and medications of their grandparents or elderly people, so there will not be [unused medications] left in their house.”
For more information about the event or the Count It! Lock It! Drop It! campaign, contact CCADC at 931-570-4484.
Elena Cawley may be reached via email at email@example.com.