LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - As the battle against the opioid epidemic continues across the country here in Southwest Oklahoma law enforcement and local organizations are doing their best to prevent misuse of prescription pills. The folks at the Wichita Mountains Prevention Network, who deal with all kinds of substance abuse, say they focus on three things: proper use, storage and disposal of prescription pills. Those actions help save lives.
Bethany Sullivan with the Wichita Mountains Prevention Network explains the different ways she helps Stephens County combat prescription pill abuse.
"There was data collected and Stephens County ranked higher in prescription misuse and abuse and a lot of issues with that," Sullivan said.
The county has access to a 5 year Partnership for Success grant that allows people to get the things they need to keep their prescriptions safe.
Like prescription disposal options to dissolve them or send them away.
"You just put water in it, instructions are on the back and you just seal it, shake it and throw it away," Sullivan explains about one of the dissolving options.
"You put your medications in here and you mail them," Sullivan explains about the mail away option.
They also give away lock boxes to keep your prescriptions out of other people's hands.
Sgt Timothy Jenkins with the Lawton Police Department said having prescription medication can be like having a target on your back.
"It'll lead to not just the pills being sold or prescribed to somebody who's not suppose to have them in their possession, but violence," Jenkins said. "Burglary, robbery, other crimes. It's just a domino effect. If we can stop one, maybe we can stop everything from happening."
The Lawton Police Department has a drop off box at their station just for prescription drugs, no questions asked.
All Lawton police officers carry Narcan, which they have had since the start of this year. It's been used twice during emergencies. Narcan is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The Wichita Mountains Prevention Network can also help you get some for free.
Sullivan also shares information about a lesser known prescription abuse: sharing medication, which is illegal and could be deadly.
"They are surprised because I think they see it as if their friend or family member is hurting and say, 'I wanna be able to help them,' without realizing in helping them, they are actually hurting them," Sullivan said.
If you need more information from the Wichita Mountains Prevention Network, contact them at (580) 355-5246) or at their location at 1318 SW Lee Blvd in Lawton.