LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Long Beach Sgt. Investigator Stephanie Stewart spent the day sorting, counting and labeling old prescriptions people dropped off to be disposed of properly.
Stewart knows first hand how important it is to get unused prescriptions out of the house. Six years ago, she lost her brother to a drug overdose.
"He started off with just minor prescriptions. He had a back problem and began getting more prescriptions," Stewart said. "At some point he was taking prescriptions out of cabinets of family members and stuff like that because the addiction grew so strong to the point that it ended his life."
Stewart hopes that others will learn from her family tragedy.
"It left behind a lot of pain for my parents and other family members and friends that loved him very much, so it doesn't just affect one person," Stewart said.
According to a study done by MetLife Foundation, one in six teens have abused prescription drugs and most admit to getting them from a family member or friends. This is something Carolyn Anderson with the Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force wants to stop.
"They do not realize the long term damage that some of these drugs could be doing to their systems. Right now at 16, 17, 18, they feel invincible," Anderson said.
Anderson is trying to educate everyone on doing their part to prevent the problem.
"Be sure that you put it someplace up high, hidden away, until you have a DEA take back day," Anderson said.
Sgt. Stewart said if you want to get rid of drugs before a take back day there are a few ways to do it safely. She recommends mixing the medicine with kitty litter, coffee grounds or throwing it out with leftover food like beans. She says this not only lets the pills start to dissolve, but it also makes it less desirable to those looking for pills.
"It's going to be a battle we fight for a very long time, until everyone can join in," Stewart said.
Both women hope by raising awareness they can prevent others from addiction and even death.