It’s just a prescription drop box. Right?
To Klickitat-Lyle Against Substance Abuse Coalition (KLASAC) and its partners, it’s one step in addressing the misuse of prescription drugs by a growing number of young people in Klickitat County.
This new Prescription Drug Disposal Container (Rx Drop Box, for short) was officially dedicated at Skyline Hospital in White Salmon on June 20 with a ribbon- cutting ceremony by the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce.
“In 2016, we (KLASAC) saw an increase in the number of young people who reported misusing prescription drugs in Klickitat County, which aligns with what we’re seeing across the state and country. This is an added concern for us knowing that many of our young people struggle with thoughts of suicide and prescription drugs can be used for that purpose,” said Rita Pinchot, KLASAC coordinator.
According to starttalkingnow.org: “In 2015, more than 700 people in Washington died from overdoses involving opioids, and 57 percent of people currently using heroin were dependent on prescription opioids before they began using heroin. One in five teens experiments with prescription drugs, and nearly half of young people who inject heroin started off abusing prescription drugs.”
Pinchot said the organization’s strategy was to prevent this trend from growing by decreasing access to RX drugs.
“The first step for us in doing this is to provide a pathway to remove unwanted and unused prescription medications from the community,” Pinchot said. “In our 2017 Community Survey, almost all participants said they did not know where they could safely dispose of unwanted prescription medications. The Drop Box is a safe and secure disposal site open to all community members to use anonymously.”
Pinchot noted it is not safe to flush medications down the toilet. When prescription drugs are flushed they end up in our streams, ground, and marine waters and pose a danger to fish and other marine life. Throwing medications in the trash can be potentially harmful, as well, and there are very specific steps to be taken if this is used as an option.
“We want people to dispose of medications properly to ensure that they aren’t taken accidentally or become intentionally abused,” she continued.
Funding to purchase the Drop Box came from a grant through the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.
“In the fall of 2017, the state released funding enhancement opportunities for coalitions and community organizations to develop additional strategies to reduce youth substance abuse in communities around Washington State. KLASAC applied for this funding and was awarded $3,500 to implement this project and increase community awareness,” Pinchot said.
KLASAC worked with Skyline Hospital, the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department, and the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office to develop a partnership that would meet the DEA requirements and allow the organization to install a permanent Drop Box location in White Salmon.
Skyline Hospital Pharmacist Amy Knowles is pleased the facility could provide the permanent and convenient solution to the proper disposal of unwanted medications for all community members.
“Safe medication disposal is essential for protecting our community from accidental or intentional medication misuse. I am proud that Skyline Hospital has made a commitment to help reduce the risk of environmental medication contamination and drug diversion,” she said.