CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Tennessee collected 34 tons of prescription drugs in one day during the DEA’s recent 14th annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, a record amount that far outpaced other states that have serious opioid abuse problems.
For Count It! Lock It! Drop It! (CLD), those statistics were another indication that its efforts are paying off. CLD is a community program for prescription drug misuse that works to raise awareness about ways to keep drugs, especially opioid pain medication, out of abusers’ hands and how to properly dispose of them.
The CLD program was launched as a local initiative by the Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition, but expanded its support training and outreach efforts to 63 counties following a $1.3 million grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation in 2016. In addition, CLD played a key role in getting a prescription drop box established in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties. With the help of organizations including coalitions, health councils and law enforcement departments, it has distributed 144,000 campaign materials.
As part of CLD’s outreach, the program has heavily promoted the DEA’s National Take-Back Day encouraging people to properly dispose of unused prescription pain pills along with other medication sitting around their houses.
As an example of how successful the DEA’s Take-Back Day was in Tennessee, the 68,053 pounds of unused or expired medications collected in the state was more than the combined amounts collected in Ohio (35,797 pounds), Michigan (20,338 pounds) and Kentucky (11,076 pounds). The combined population of Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky is 25.8 million compared to Tennessee’s 6.7 million.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that our year-round awareness efforts played a big role in the turnout of Take-Back Day in Tennessee,” said Kristina Clark, CLD project manager. “Our staff and partners have done a great job helping promote Take-Back Day and also increasing awareness of the need to safely dispose of unused pain medication.”
Dr. Andrea Willis, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, says these results reinforce the foundation’s decision to provide a grant to Count It! Lock It! Drop It!
“We made a commitment to play a significant role in the fight against opioid abuse in Tennessee, and we felt that helping CLD expand its program to areas across the state hit hard by this epidemic could have a major impact in getting prescription pain medications out of circulation,” Dr. Willis said. “The program’s results are extremely impressive, and we are proud to have played a part in helping it grow and expand.”
Tennessee has been participating in the DEA’s take-back events since 2010, and more than 223,000 pounds of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs have been collected.
Count It! Lock It! Drop It!® is a comprehensive community program for prescription drug misuse prevention based in Coffee County, Tenn. With support from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and the community at large, the program is leading a statewide education effort to combat the misuse and abuse of prescription pain medication. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, more than 7.6 million opioid prescriptions were written in 2016, and at least 1,631 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses. It is CLD’s mission to make the community aware of the risks and dangers associated with the prescription drug misuse epidemic.
About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.
The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc., was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The foundation awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, the foundation is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s mission is to provide peace of mind through better health. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on serving more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and across the country. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit the company’s website at bcbst.com.