- Posted February 9, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
Are You Drinking Your Neighbor's Birth Control Medicine?
When we flush our medicines down the toilet or sink, they contaminate our groundwater, causing problems for humans and aquatic animals. I wanted to be proactive and educate my community and the world about this environmental harm and learned these same drugs, if just left in our medicine cabinets, are causing the latest drug epidemic, Teen Prescription Drug Abuse. Teens are having “Pharm Parties” where they mix all the medications that they have taken from medicine cabinets and abuse them.
I then created WI P2D2, which stands for Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal, to focus on reducing the impact of unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals in the world while working to spread awareness about prescription drug abuse.
Our medicine cabinets are now the new drug dealers. The prescription drugs and Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicines that we leave unsecured in our medicine cabinets are fueling the newest drug problem among America’s teens – Prescription and OTC Drug Abuse.
70% of individuals who abuse prescription pain killers obtained them from a friend or relative, often without their knowledge. More people abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine combined.
To start my drug program, I contacted the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Department of Justice but none of these governmental agencies were willing to tackle this insidious problem or help me with my project. I decided that I would make a difference by conducting a drug collection in my hometown on my own. This was a monumental task as it is illegal to collect or accept prescription drugs from someone and the cost to dispose of these drugs is prohibitive.
My specific goal with P2D2 is to educate the public about prescription and OTC drug abuse, provide a means to properly dispose of their unwanted drugs, and instruct the public about how to safely store the drugs they choose to keep in their homes. Spreading awareness by working with local youth, volunteers, law enforcement, local, state and national government, teachers, businesses and civic organizations is the only way to save our teens from prescription drug abuse.
So far I have held multiple drug collection events, created 5 permanent drug collection programs, hosted a flu shot clinic, a free sharps disposal, a free mercury thermometer swap and have helped collect over 20,000 pounds of drugs in Wisconsin that are now out of the hands of young children and teens. Since I started my program, the total amount of drugs collected nationwide for 2010 was 242,000 pounds (121 tons) and over 376,593 pounds (188 tons) for 2011!
I have also purchased several 24/7 drug drop off boxes for communities, engaged high school students to paint and decorate the containers, helped cities purchase incinerators to save on disposal costs, been the first teen in Wisconsin to win a state grant for drug collection/disposal, mentored teens and adults across the country with their programs, helped communities come together to eradicate a social problem from their streets, and have become a national spokesperson for teen activism.
I have partnered with another program and P2D2 has spread across the country into over 17 states and we are working to distribute drug lock boxes to parents and grandparents nation-wide to securely store any drugs that are kept in the home
Furthermore, I made this project self-sustainable, by securing permanent drop off boxes, drug incinerators and disposal for these hazardous materials. I have made WI P2D2 the first teen-created, self-sustainable, drug collection program in the world!