Coalitions in Action: Tennessee Coalition Deploys Many Strategies to Reduce Medicine Abuse
In Paris, Tenn., it’s the sheriff’s deputies who make house calls. Through a unique partnership between the local sheriff’s department and the Henry County Prevention Coalition, residents in this rural community can call the sheriff to request their used and expired medications be picked up and arrange to have them incinerated by a deputy. The Sheriff even serves on the coalition’s board of directors.
That is one of many strategies employed by the coalition to reduce prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse in their county of more than 32,000 residents.
Coalition Coordinator Erica Rawls said that their community’s No. 1 substance abuse problem is Rx abuse. As such, the topic is their No. 1 initiative, followed by tobacco use and underage drinking. Their state comes in at 2nd place for the most “prescribed” state in the country.The CADCA member-organization holds regular prescription and OTC drug take back events each quarter, maintain two drop-off boxes, and coordinate with a neighboring county authority to safely dispose of the drugs in a regional incinerator.
To engage more members of the community in finding solutions to the problem, the group held a town hall meeting at a local school last October during National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month.
They are now working on installing permanent drop boxes in their area pharmacies.
The issue is important to Rawls because she has two teenagers herself.
“I believe that this has helped reduce this issue of prescription drugs in Northwest Tennessee. This and the awareness we provide will help combat this behavior,” Rawls said, adding that she is most proud of their positive relationship between their sheriff’s department and residents.
“We do our hardest to get the word out about that,” she said.
The group’s efforts have earned them $500 as the second place winners of CADCA’s Dose of Prevention Award for their comprehensive approach to help raise awareness of the abuse of medicines in their community.
Rawls plans to use the award money to purchase more personal lock boxes to give out to residents at their next take-back event.