By Christy Smith
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, in 2018 Unicoi County had five people die from an opioid overdose.
In 2019, the county had a total of 24,110 opioids for pain prescriptions filled. With a population of only 17,761 that is 1,367 pills per 1,000 persons. The top three medications prescribed were Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Tramadol.
In order for our community to reduce accidental overdoses and medication theft, the Unicoi County Prevention Coalition partners with Clinchfield Drug Company, Roller Pharmacy, Unicoi County Insurance, Urgent Care, Frontier Health, and Neighborhood Service Center to distribute medication lock boxes and educate the community on the CLD (Count It! Lock it! Drop It!) program.
The CLD program was created by the Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition. The program is a statewide program whose goal is to reduce prescription drug abuse in Tennessee.
One way that communities can decrease substance abuse is by encouraging individuals, families, and institutions to monitor, secure, and properly dispose of medications.
When a participant receives a lock box, the partner educates him/her on counting their medications every two weeks, locking their medications up which will deter/decrease theft and accidental overdoses, and talks to them about the two permanent disposal boxes at the Erwin Police Department and Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office.
The lock box contains two keys and the participant can bolt the box to a wall so no one can steal the box in the household.
The Coalition does provide a weekly pill organizer and prescription medication chart, along with the lock box so patients can be proactive and count their medications and make sure they are taking the correct medication daily.
The Coalition also has two National Drug Take Back events in October and April every year. Roller Pharmacy, ETSU School of Pharmacy, and Erwin Police Department take back medications at the Erwin Town Hall and provide lock boxes, Coalition education materials, prescription charts, and pill organizers to the community.
This year, the Coalition will hopefully partner with doctors, dentists, and civic organizations to reach the rural population in Unicoi County.
If you or anyone you know needs a prescription lock box, please call the Coalition at 735-8407 or stop by one of our partner locations to receive a box.
Next time, we will talk about Coalition meetings and members. Until then, be safe and stay healthy.