Operation Pill Drop Aims To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse Among Children
Palm Beach County Initiative Provides Public Boxes for Disposing of Old Medications
Did you know prescription painkillers are the most commonly abused drugs by teenagers? Did you know 2,000 youths per day try prescription pills for the first time? Did you know two-thirds of boys and girls who become addicted to prescriptions get them from family members and friends, including from their parents’ medicine cabinets?
Legal, yet potent, prescribed substances are abused more frequently by teenagers in the United States than heroin and methamphetamines combined, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
Such startling statistics have prompted Palm Beach County pharmacies to launch Operation Pill Drop. Operation Pill Drop aims to prevent prescription drug abuse by providing drop boxes for expired, unused and unwanted medications. As part of the project, a total of 52 Publix pharmacies and 69 Walgreens pharmacies throughout the area are displaying signs showing drop box locations.
“Having these signs in every Publix and Walgreens pharmacy, and hopefully others in the future, is a huge step forward in making the public aware of the availability of the drop boxes,” Jeff Kadel, executive director of the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, told The Palm Beach Post.
Added Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss, “Providing our customers with this important information will contribute to a clean environment and safe homes throughout Palm Beach County.”
Among the items that can be dropped off are all prescriptions, liquid medications in plastic containers (no glass bottles), lotions, medications for pets, ointments, over-the-counter medications, sample packets and vitamins. Aerosol cans, inhalers, hydrogen peroxide, needles and thermometers will not be accepted.
Operation Pill Drop is a joint effort of the NOPE Task Force, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Solid Waste Authority, in addition to the coalition, which was founded to give parents the support tools to live alcohol-, drug- and tobacco-free. The coalition has provided the following tips for safeguarding your home and protecting your children:
Step 1: Monitor. Do you know which medications you have and their quantities? Would you know whether any pills were missing? Those are two crucial questions to ask and answer. Parents not only should monitor their medications but also their children. Talk to them openly about prescriptions. If they are taking one, emphasize the importance of following the directions and never taking more pills than indicated. Take the pledge to be proactive.
Step 2: Secure. Take care of your prescriptions the way you would your jewelry or other valuables. As an extra precaution, remove prescriptions from medicine cabinets and place them somewhere less obvious. Encourage other parents to do the same.
Step 3: Dispose. Rid your home of prescriptions when your children are not there. Studies show they often will retrieve discarded bottles from the trash can or recycling bin. Do not flush medications down the drain or toilet.
According to the coalition, an estimated seven Floridians die every day from prescription drug overdose.