Healthline: Drug take-back boxes

Healthline: Drug take-back boxes
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Do you know what's in your medicine cabinet? Those pill bottles can pile up pretty quickly, and there's a new push to dispose of medications before they fall into the wrong hands.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) partnered with the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators to install 29 secure drop boxes for unwanted prescriptions at police departments across the state. It's an effort to combat the skyrocketing rate of painkiller abuse.

"Americans have a pill for every problem, so our medicine cabinets are filled with various types of medications," explained Kandyce Cowart, the manager of federal investigations for BCBSLA. "The trend among teenagers now is not to get their drugs in a dark alley, it's to get their drugs from the medicine cabinet."

This year the program hopes to collect 10,000 pounds of potentially dangerous painkillers. Louisiana is one of the worst offenders when it comes to doctors over-prescribing opioids.

"We know that the vast majority of our doctors are prescribing responsibly," Cowart said. "However, it only takes a few to prescribe irresponsibly, and we have a tremendous problem, which is what we've seen in Baton Rouge."

The Central Police Department installed its box last month. It's bolted to the foundation and under 24/7 video surveillance. The pills are periodically incinerated, which is safer than throwing them away or flushing them into the water supply. Other departments have already seen success without any cost to the taxpayer.

"Zachary has one, talking to their chief it was very positive for their city, so I felt it would be a good positive thing for our city also," Central Police Chief James Salsbury said.

Prescription drug users often turn to heroin for a cheaper and more accessible high. 2015 was a record year in Baton Rouge with at least 42 deaths attributed to heroin overdoses. Getting rid of pills is only one small step, but it's a step anyone can take.

"There's no questions asked. Drop it in the box and leave," Salsbury said.

The following locations have drop-off boxes in the Baton Rouge area:

Zachary Police Department (4510 Main St.)
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Denham Springs Police Department (447 Lamm St.)
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Central Police Department (13431 Hooper Road)
8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Tuesday - Thursday

Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office (112 Franklin Street, Napoleonville)
8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday - Friday

West Feliciana Emergency Operations Center (9938 W Feliciana Pkwy, St. Francisville)
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

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