"Mom’s my dealer and doesn’t even know it." That’s the wording on a poster showing a young girl holding a handful of prescription drugs. The poster is used by Catoosa Prevention Initiative (CaPI), a project of the Catoosa County Family Collaborative.
CaPI is currently involved in two projects, one to reduce underage drinking and marijuana and tobacco use, and one to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs by young people ages 12-25.
William Mathew is the project coordinator for the prescription drug project, which is called Generation Rx (GenRx).
"There are two main things we’re working on right now," says Mathew. "One is getting drug disposal boxes located in strategic locations. We have one at the Catoosa Sheriff’s Department, and we’d like to see one in Fort Oglethorpe."
Mathew says people can drop their unneeded or outdated prescription drugs into the box 24/7, no questions asked. Officials empty the boxes and incinerate the drugs in a burn unit referred to as the "Drug Terminator."
How much is the drug drop-box at the sheriff’s department used? Mathew says it collects an average of 25 pounds of drugs a week. "When you think about how light all those pills are," he says, "that’s a lot of drugs. This is a way to keep drugs from sitting around in people’s homes where children or teens can find them."
CaPI also promotes the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Take Back Days – promotional events held twice a year to encourage people to clean out their medicine cabinets and turn the drugs in to their local law enforcement agency.
"Last spring, during Take Back Days," says Mathew, "The Catoosa Sheriff’s Department took in 100 pounds of drugs in one week."
Also part of the GenRx project is the distribution of medicine safes to help keep prescription drugs out of the hands of children. "If a child is on a drug like Ritalin or there are homes where adults take prescription drugs that could be dangerous for children in their homes, we can provide them with a special safe that has a combination lock to keep the drugs out of the wrong hands or to keep children from taking too much of their own medicine," says Mathew.
CaPI partners with Promise Pediatrics and the Catoosa County Employee Health Clinic to help distribute the drug safes.
Both GenRx projects are funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
To learn more about Catoosa Prevention Initiative, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/CapitCatoosa.