Steamboat Springs Survey results from last winter showed fewer Routt County youth have abused prescription drugs, and the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition hopes that trend continues.
Kate Elkins, the director of Grand Futures in Routt County, thinks programs like Drug Take-Back Day have helped keep dangerous drugs out of the hands of teenagers and others who may abuse them.
"It not only encourages community members to get rid of the prescription drugs they are not using, but it's raising awareness of why they should be mindful of not keeping prescription drugs in their house," Elkins said.
Steamboat school resource officer Nick Moore collected 6.5 pounds of drugs brought in by students this week. On Saturday, during a four-hour collection drive, 79 pounds of drugs were collected from residents at a drop-off location in front of the Steamboat Springs Police Station.
Communities across the country manned similar drop-off locations as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Take-Back Initiative. The DEA will collect the drugs and send them away for safe disposal.
According to a Grand Futures survey last winter, 17 percent of Routt County students reported having abused prescription drugs during their lifetime. That number was lower than in 2010, when 23 percent of local students reported having abused prescription drugs.
The Routt County numbers are lower than those in neighboring Eagle County, where 19 percent of students reported in the December 2012 survey that they had abused prescription drugs. On average, 20 percent of students have abused them, according to national surveys.
Youth are not the only concern.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, yearly deaths in Colorado due to drug-related poisoning more than doubled from 351 in 2000 to 838 in 2011.
By safely discarding prescription drugs, harmful chemicals also are kept out of landfills.
Steamboat resident Sharon Pace dropped off a large bag with drugs that her late-husband used during his battle with cancer.
"At the end, he was on tons of narcotics," Pace said. "I wanted to get rid of them. I don't want them sitting around my house. I know that you're not to throw them into the garbage."
Steamboat Springs Police Department records technician Sarah Larson was helping collect the drugs with Marta Galan, who works with Partners in Routt County, and Maddy Larson, a freshman at Steamboat Springs High School.
Maddy said it was important to prevent youth from finding and having access to the drugs.
"It's really not safe for kids to think they can take drugs that are not things they should be taking," Larson said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com
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