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

A small group of kids in various sportswear pose together while smiling at the camera. Isolated on white.

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.”