Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Jefferson County Drug Prevention Coalition (JCDPC) is realizing its “vision of a community that makes substance abuse prevention a priority.” Located south of St. Louis, Mo., Jefferson County is a suburban and rural, bedroom community of 224,000 people; approximately 25 percent of its population is under age 18.
“We’re engaged in addressing a variety of issues which directly or indirectly impact children and young people,” says JCDPC’s Youth Program Coordinator Alicia Towery. “Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, marijuana – these are challenges we must address to keep the next generation safe.”
Rx storage and proper disposal: The JCDPC’s approach to prescription drug abuse prevention includes proper medication storage and disposal.
“These two strategies serve as focal points, and our action steps designed to support these strategies are unique,” says Towery. The coalition successfully collaborates with local law enforcement agencies, resulting in the promotion and use of Jefferson County’s eight permanent drop boxes located in police and sheriff’s departments. “We’re also ‘command central’ because people contact us when they’ve missed official drug take-back days. They want to do the right thing and dispose their medicines the right way,” reiterates Towery.
Another flagship strategy is the creation and distribution of pharmacy counter mats and flyers. These materials distributed to Jefferson County pharmacies, provide information about where the County’s permanent drop boxes can be found. A QR code is also displayed on both that when scanned, allows users to see a map of drop box locations. From 2015-2016, hundreds of mats and supporting collateral were disseminated. Here’s what JCDPC recently learned from a coalition-conducted feedback survey:
- Out of the 15 pharmacies who responded, most affirmed that the maps are prominently displayed at their counters
- Six print and distribute flyers
- Most confirmed that this effort is very useful
- Interestingly, 93 percent affirmed that the counter mats have created conversations among customers and staff
- 10 out of 15 affirmed that they would be interested in hosting Prescription Drug Take-Backs
“Results are exceptional, with 3000 pounds of medications collected in 2016,” confirms Towery.
Over-the-counter medicine safety training: The coalition also participated in CADCA’s Medicine Safety Youth Educators pilot program, which trained teen coalition leaders on the free, evidence based Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety Program so that they could teach the curriculum to 5th and/or 6th graders in their community. “We’re very proud of our two student trainers who facilitated four, 50-minute sessions among 5th and 6th graders,” says Towery. The coalition taught 146 students, well over the required 25! There was also a 13 percent increase in knowledge, based on pre- and post-tests.
Rx, alcohol and marijuana: Since 2013, the coalition has listed businesses which have passed or failed alcohol compliance checks, and the JCDPC, “names names,” on its website. In 2015, for example, 77 businesses were listed, and 24 had failed their compliance checks. The PROM (Please Return On Monday) campaign reiterates that most students DO NOT use marijuana, alcohol or prescription drugs. Messaging is uniquely displayed on posters, table tents and corsage box stickers.
“We must set the stage for our young people to effectively take over where we begin. That’s what our efforts are all about. One of our students articulated it well when she said, ‘I want to see change in our community…we have to put awareness out there. We can be the start of change in our community,’” concludes Towery. “There are many things that we can do to protect the next generation. Think big, but break things into manageable pieces. Nurture and grow your relationships, particularly with law enforcement, the school systems and young people.”