COLUMBIA — For the first time, Columbia and five other cities in Boone County are coordinating to tackle the issue of prescription drug abuse among teens, according to Ryan Worley, assistant coordinator for the Youth Community Coalition.
The Youth Community Coalition and the Boone County Sheriff’s Department will host a Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 9 a.m. to noon June 12. The drop-off locations in Columbia are Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools.
What to bring:
- Photo identification showing you are at least 18 years old
- Any prescription or over-the-counter medications for anyone in your household. Medicine must be in original packaging from the pharmacy and items that will be accepted include: controlled substances, liquids, inhalers, medicated ointments, patches and pills.
What not to bring:
- Illicit drugs (ex. cocaine, marijuana, etc.)
- Sharps objects including needles
- Radioactive medicines
- Biohazardous materials
- Glass thermometers or other medical devices
The purpose of this event is to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and keep Boone County teens safe by disposing of old medications. Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey said the Sheriff's Department will dissolve the drugs in water and cat litter, put them in hard plastic containers and close them tight with lids, as recommended by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The containers will be taken to the city dump and thrown away.
“It’s important to have the take-back day because there are many kids abusing prescription drugs,” Carey said.
The abuse of over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs has been increasing in recent years, according to the Youth Community Coalition website.
“If my doctor gave me 20 painkillers, such as Vicodin, and I end up taking only three, kids will take them and sell them on the street,” Carey said.
Prescription drug abuse can cause drug poisoning and accidental deaths.
According to a Missourian article published in 2006, Chris Crivello, a senior at Southern Boone County High School in Ashland, died from a morphine overdose in February 2006. He abused his father’s morphine pills prescribed for chronic back pain.
Without knowing the dangers, many teens abuse prescription drugs at a similar rate as they do marijuana or other illicit drugs, Worley said. The coalition, known as YC2, works toward decreasing substance abuse and promoting healthy behaviors among Columbia’s youth.
“Lots of them fall into the wrong hands,” Worley said. “People misunderstand and think it’s safe to be high from using prescription drugs.”
By providing the community with a safe way to destroy leftover drugs sitting in the cabinet, Prescription Drug Take Back Day is expected to reduce the abuse rate and help teens make healthy choices. It also can help more adults realize the importance of disposing their old drugs instead of leaving them somewhere carelessly.
If this event goes well in the county, Carey wants to hold more "take-back" days in the future.
“We don’t know for sure how it will turn out because it’s the first time,” Carey said. “But we do think it’s going to have a substantial impact on the community.”
People are encouraged to bring as many prescription medications and drugs as possible.
“The more people bring, the safer for kids and the more we can prevent them from selling the drugs on the street,” Carey said.
The "take-back" day will be held simultaneously in Columbia and Ashland, Sturgeon, Centralia, Hallsville and Harrisburg.
In addition to the Youth Community Coalition and the Boone County Sheriff's Department, Ashland Police Department, Centralia Police Department, Sturgeon Police Department and Hallsville Police Department are sponsors of the event.