March 27, 2015

Chicago Tribune: Drug disposal program keeps pace with increasing prescription abuse

Lake County has expanded its prescription drug drop-off program to include 22 area police departments, with Winthrop Harbor the latest to join in the fight.

The multi-organizational local effort made sure 7,800 pounds of unwanted or old prescription drugs didn't reach the wrong hands in 2012. The following year, the program disposed of 8,200 pounds of prescriptions before reaching a staggering 12,000 pounds in 2014.

"The use is climbing in Lake County," said Bill Gentes, project coordinator for the Lake County Health Department's Drug Free Communities Program. According to Gentes, the program's success can be attributed to more police departments coming on board and increased public awareness.

"What we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg," Gentes said. "We have far surpassed the numbers we anticipated."

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration's 2014 National Drug Threat Assessment Survey, the threat from controlled prescription drugs "is persistent, and deaths involving CPDs outnumber those involving heroin and cocaine combined."

March 10, 2015

Local Drug Disposal Success!

February 27, 2015

Drug Disposal Kick-off in Lake County


Over the last few years the Task Force has been working with law enforcement throughout Lake County to grow a network of prescription drug collection boxes. In 2 and half years we have grown the network from 9 boxes to 20 boxes. Our collection numbers have gone from 7,800 pounds to approximately 12,000 pounds in 2014.

There were problems with the disposal system given the DEA only collected the drugs from participating departments twice a year, forcing department to store the bulky packages for long periods of time in their evidence rooms.

Working with our state legislators particularly State Senator Terry Link we were able to secure funding for a monthly take back day for law enforcement through SWALCO (Solid Waste Agency of Lake County). Lake County States Attorney Mike Nerheim got us face to face with the DEA to establish the program's operational guidelines, and Sheriff Mark Curran has provided a officer to supervise the actual disposal event.

Yesterday we tested the program out. We took in the two Police Department’s with the most disposal/storage needs, Libertyville and Vernon Hills. Between the two we had 600 pounds of miscellaneous prescription drugs. The goal was to segregate and destroy obvious narcotic prescription drugs. It took about 4 hours to move through the process.

At the end of the day here are the most significant things we were able to determine:
  • Conservatively we took 10 lbs. of scheduled prescribed narcotics and destroyed them.
  • These 10 lbs. were around 500-700 pills, the street value of this type of medication is between $25-30 dollars.
  • A conservative estimate of the street value of what we collected today from just 2 of the 20 box Lake County Effort was $15,000
Given what we now know, about our collection efforts in 2014 and the amount of prescription drugs on hand, we conservatively collected right around 12,000 pounds of prescription drugs and if 600 pounds of disposal weight created 10 pounds of prescription narcotics, then a rough estimate of the street value of 240 lbs. of these drugs is $360,000 for 2014.