October 17, 2018
By Jill Penley
In an effort to reduce access to opiates and other prescription drugs which have the potential for being abused, the Johnson County A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, or “Alliance of Citizens Together Improving Our Neighborhoods,” is touting several initiatives aimed at eliminating prescription drug abuse.
Such efforts include the upcoming Drug Take-Back Day and distribution of prescription lock boxes for families looking to keep prescriptions out of the hands of relatives or friends who may be searching for a quick fix.
“Prescription drug abuse and misuse is a public health epidemic across the entire country,” said Kandas Motsinger, Program Coordinator with the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, “and accessibility is the number one contributing factor to the misuse and abuse of medications.”
Johnson County residents can visit Mountain City Town Hall, Shady Valley Fire Department or the Butler Fire Department to utilize free, permanent drug-take back services on Saturday, Oct 27 from 10 am to 2 pm. While needles and sharps, mercury thermometers, oxygen containers, chemo/radioactive substances, pressurized canisters, illicit drugs or other medical supplies cannot be accepted, anyone with unused, unwanted or expired medications in pill or liquid form is encouraged to participate.
Americans nationwide did their part to drop off a record number of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications during the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s 15th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in May, at close to 6,000 sites across the country. Together with a record-setting amount of local, state and federal partners, DEA collected and destroyed close to one million pounds-nearly 475 tons of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs, making it the most successful event in DEA history.
The agency launched the program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-posed potential safety and health hazards.
Some medications are needed and cannot be eliminated and to reduce access to those who medications are not prescribed, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition provides drug lockboxes. “To further reduce unauthorized use of medications we want to make adults aware of the easy access to prescription drugs, said Motsinger. “We provide the knowledge and the tools to lock up their prescription medications.”
The lock boxes are available to all community members at no cost but limited to one box per household. To obtain one, please visit the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition office at 138 East Main Street, Mountain City and complete and survey and sign a release. The lockbox comes complete with the hardware necessary to mount it to the wall and a key to keep the contents secure. “We encourage individuals to install their drug lock box in a non-conspicuous spot,” said Motsinger.
Established in 2005, A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition (Alliance of Citizens Together Improving Our Neighborhoods) was initially a product of an HRSA (Human Resource and Service Administration) grant, aimed at increasing mental health services in the county and America’s Promise movement. Funding also comes through various state and federal grants.
Since its inception, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition has expanded, and with the assistance of state and federal grant funding, supports and sponsors youth development programs such as SQUAD (Students Questioning Using and Abusing Drugs) and MTC (Mobile Team Challenge). They also host RBS (Responsible Beverage Server) training and numerous sobriety checkpoints in partnership with law enforcement in addition to mentoring & facilitating new coalitions Throughout Northeast TN.