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.

February 9, 2015

Most Searched Drug by State

Internet search results might not be the best way to determine the amount of drugs that are being used, but they do provide insight into the relationship between drugs and culture.
The folks over at Withdrawal.net, a site that lists substance abuse recovery resources, have made an animated map that shows what types of illegal drugs people are searching for online. The map gives an interesting look into the shifting drug culture of the United States. For instance, searches for drugs like meth and various prescription drugs have increased rapidly over the past decade. Meth use has steadily been declining since around 2005 yet the map shows that at around 2005 searches for meth started increasing. Then in about 2008, they drop way down, not picking up again until 2012 (Breaking Bad influence?).

January 20, 2015

My Suburban Life Editorial on New Social Hosting Law

LAKE COUNTY – A new Illinois state law imposes penalties for parents or guardians who provide alcohol to minors on private property including vehicles, boats, and motor homes, and private planes. 

The Lake County Sheriff's Office intends to enforce the new laws on the county's many lakes come boating season, according to Sgt. James McKinney of Lake County Sheriff's Office's Marine Unit. As of Jan. 1, there is a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail for knowingly providing underage drinking to occur, McKinney said.
"If death results from providing alcohol to minors, the adult is subject to be charged with a felony," McKinney said, adding that the law also includes provisions for social hosting and parties in which adults provide alcohol to minors.

Mike Nerheim, Lake County state's attorney, said his office has "seen tragic examples of what underage drinking results in." "We hope that this legislation will encourage parents and guardians to be more vigilant," Nerheim said. "We also hope that this legislation will set a precedence to discourage parents in hosting social events that involve underage drinking in their homes.” McKinney said the new state laws are a result of local tragedies.

For the rest of the article go here.

January 19, 2015

Extreme binge drinking: How common is it among high school seniors?

A University of Michigan study published online in JAMA Pediatrics finds that ten percent of high school seniors have engaged in extreme binge drinking, drinking 10 or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting.
The study is based on data from a nationally representative sample of more than 16,000 high school seniors, surveyed between 2005 and 2011 as part of the annual Monitoring the Future Study conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

“More than one in ten high school seniors (10.5 percent) had 10 or more drinks in a row and more than one in 20 (5.6 percent) had 15 or more drinks in a row at least once in the last two weeks,” said developmental psychologist Megan Patrick, lead author of the study.

The study is important because it provides insight into seemingly conflicting trends:  that reported levels of binge drinking – traditionally defined as having five or more drinks in a row – have been declining among adolescents, although medical emergencies involving teen alcohol use have not.

“During the last two weeks,” the survey questions asked, “how many times (if any) have you had five [10, 15] or more drinks in a row?”  A drink was defined as any of the following:  a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer; a 4-ounce glass of wine; a 12-ounce bottle or can of wine cooler; or a mixed drink, shot glass of liquor, or the equivalent.

Patrick and colleagues found considerable variation in the rates of binge drinking among different groups.  Young men, students from more rural areas, and individuals of white race/ethnicity had particularly high rates of extreme binge drinking.  Teens from the Midwest were more likely than those in other geographic regions to report extreme binge drinking.

“Alcohol use among adolescents is an enduring public health problem, and our findings regarding the rates of extreme binge drinking are particularly alarming,” said Patrick.  “We hope that this study is helpful in drawing attention to the extent of extreme binge drinking among our nation’s high school seniors.”

Co-authors of the study were John Schulenberg, Meghan Martz, Patrick O’Malley and Lloyd Johnston at the U-M and Jennifer Maggs at Pennsylvania State University. The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DA001411.