HEARNE, Tex. (KBTX) - Opioid abuse is a growing problem across the country and here at home. 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose each day. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of opioid deaths in the U.S. has more than quadrupled since 1999.
Tuesday, in Hearne, a new prescription drop off box was unveiled at City Hall that will accept opioids, as well as old and expired medications. Advocates are hoping to prevent new opioid addictions and give residents more options to dispose of medications safely.
"The numbers that we're seeing in Texas are not necessarily saying that we have an opioid crisis. However, the data indicates that that will probably happen and so part of prevention is getting in front of it before it happens," said Ronda Jackson, a Coalition Coordinator with the Brazos Valley Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
The drop off box is very secure to prevent tampering. Each lock requires a separate key and the bin is also bolted to the floor.
"We have a permanent fixture in our community that's going to continue to prevent opioid misuse," said Jackson.
Other options include a bin at the Brazos County Sheriff's Office on Highway 21 in Bryan. Walgreens on 29th Street and Briarcrest Drive also has a bin available 24 hours a day.
"We want to have safety for our patients, safety for their loved ones .So being able to bring back medication to a safe disposal place instead of pouring it down the drain, pouring it down the toilet in the landfill provides much less problems for patients and for our environment," explained Lynde Buras, Walgreens Pharmacy Manager.
"We take back pretty much any type of medication. We will not accept liquids, we do not accept needles, of course illicit drugs," added Buras.
Walgreens tells us they have bins at 600 locations nationwide with plans to add at least 900 more.
The company tells us they've collected 155 tons of unwanted medications nationwide in the past 18 months.
Eventually, substance abuse experts hope to add a location in College Station but there are logistical issues because of tight drug regulations.
"That hesitation to just host this kind of thing as well as theft the exposure having it out in the open creates another risk problem there," said Bill Roberts, a Prevention Specialist with the Brazos Valley Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
"It’s already here. We know of people that have already lost love ones because of this issue and so the best way to cut it off is to prevent it before it becomes a serious problem," said Roberts.
"Take on this opioid crisis before it hits our community really hard," he added.
Some of the items not allowed to be dropped off include needles, inhalers and liquids like hydrogen peroxide. The bins are also only for public use and not for business or commercial waste use.
On Thursday, President Trump is expected to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.