ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – It’s a first for the City of St. Louis in the battle to stop deadly drug overdoses.
St. Louis Police now have a 24-7 drug drop-off site.
An alarming climb in overdose deaths has led to the new plan of attack.
According to the National Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse (NCADA) there were 152 overdose deaths in the St. Louis region in 2007. Last year there were more than 500 – all from prescription opiates, heroin, and fentanyl.
This new plan targets those prescription drugs, considered a gateway to heroin.
People can now drop off unused prescriptions in the new drop box at St. Louis Police South Patrol Headquarters on Sublette in South St. Louis.
Word about the drop box is just getting out and already it keeps filling up.
“If we can get the drugs out of the drug cabinets and out of circulation before they’re misused, then we can have a positive impact on maintaining life,” said Capt. Steven Mueller of the St. Louis Police Department.
The city alone has had 117 overdose deaths in the first 9 months of the year, nearly a third of them in South St. Louis’s First District, he said.
“Nobody wakes up one day and says ‘you know what today I’m going to use heroin,’” said Brandon Costerison of the NCADA. “But people develop these substance abuse disorders with prescription opiates. 80% of the people who use heroin got their start with medications like Hydrocodone or Vicodin or Percocet.”
More than 50 permanent drug drop off boxes have sprung up across the region but look at a map of the locations and something jumps out at you.
“There really was a gap when you looked at the map all of the locations available. There was a huge gap and a huge hole in the City of St. Louis,” said Amy Tiemeier, Pharm. D., BCPS, of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. She’s also president prescription disposal program in Missouri (P2D2) which sends an average of a ton-and-a-half of unused prescriptions to an incinerator 4 times-a-year.
The goal is expand the program beyond the single South St. Louis location after a 3-6 month trial run and beyond locations inside police stations.
“There could be things at the state level that if we allowed for instance CVS and Walgreens so that where you go to pick up your prescriptions could also be the place that you return it,” said Craig Schmid of the City of St. Louis Department of Health.
There's no added cost for St. Louis Police. It is a non-profit program that covers the bills. On average incineration costs more than a $1000 per ton.
Visit the website for more information about how you can support the effort.