EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) – Last year in Madison County Illinois alone, 54 people died as a result of a drug overdose — half of them heroin-related.
In the hopes of stopping heroin addictions before they start, Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas D. Gibbons officially took the wraps off his “Lock Your Meds” campaign Wednesday.
“We’re finding that prescription pills and other medicines are being abused by young people in extraordinary numbers,” Gibbons announced on the steps of the county administration building. “Of the abusers over the age of twelve, seventy percent of them get their prescription medications from friends and family.”
Of course, he added, those family members aren’t aware it’s happening — they’re simply leaving powerful prescription drugs out in the open or failing to lock up their medicine, where curious kids find them to be easy pickings.
“Please don’t become an accidental dealer,” he implored.
Gibbons held up a small, metal lockbox with a key and said they could be purchased for as little as $10 to $15.
In investigating and prosecuting overdose deaths, Gibbons found many heroin users were also abusers of prescription drugs with multiple types of prescription drugs revealed in toxicology reports of heroin overdose victims.
“Most heroin users don’t start with heroin,” Gibbons said. “We’re finding that many started with prescription drugs.”
Also in attendance for Wednesday’s press conference was Madison County coroner Steve Nonn.
“As government officials, it is our duty not only to alert our citizens when a health hazard is present, but to react in a quick and aggressive manner in order to rebuff and resolve the problem with expediency,” Nonn stated. “Programs like Lock Your Meds are part of that very process and I am glad to be involved in the project.”
Part two of the newly-launched campaign is safely disposing of medications that have expired or are simply no longer needed.
Madison County officials will take part in the National Take Back Initiative sponsored by the DEA on Saturday, April 28th.
During a previous event last fall, the DEA collected almost 190 tons of medication at more than 5,000 sites nationwide.
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