Editorial: Additional prescription disposal boxes needed after first semester success

After being installed in September, Boynton Health's pill disposal has collected about 37 pounds in leftover pills.

Daily Editorial Board

From the hospital to overdose, the opioid crisis is a national public health crisis that cannot be ignored any longer. It’s a crisis that affects more than 11 million people nationally, including college campuses. Penn State reported one in five college students know someone addicted to pain medication. Boynton Health is taking action in preventing opioid abuse with a new drug disposal box, the first step the University of Minnesota needs to take in combating drug abuse.

The drug disposal box, which was installed by Boynton, first made its way onto campus in September and has made monumental progress since, according to recent Minnesota Daily reporting. The box collected 37 pounds of leftover pills in the first three months — totaling over  30,000 pills. While the contents were incinerated mid-November, the box will continue to collect unused prescriptions.

According to Katie Gray, one of the students who advocated for the box, unused prescriptions often end up being used for future medical use rather than being properly disposed. This can be dangerous as medical conditions can change over time.

Clearly, the drug disposal box is now a vital part of preventing drug abuse at the University. However, not only does the bin prevent misuse of prescriptions, but it also averts environmental damage that improper disposal may lead to. Nonetheless, the University and Boynton should also be considering additional steps in combating the crisis.

For instance, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has an agreement with a Walgreens near campus that permits students to purchase naloxone, or narcan, a drug used to treat a narcotics overdoses. Furthermore, the college hired two new substance abuse counselors in recent years.

Consider the fact that college students are at a higher risk of falling to the opioid epidemic. Colleges typically have an anything-goes approach to drugs and alcohol, there is higher pressure among students and they may be in this environment for multiple years. This is why colleges need to be doing more when it comes to combating addiction.

We hope to see additional promotion of Boynton’s drug disposal box, and it should consider placing more boxes around campus. Additionally, the University and health services should implement more measures to combat drug use and addiction. University officials should be following the footsteps of its counterparts, like Wisconsin, to execute new measures, such as hiring and promoting substance abuse counselors, as well as partnering with pharmacies to offer students naloxone.