Count It! Lock It! Drop It!® is a comprehensive community initiative for prescription drug abuse prevention that began in Coffee County, Tennessee. The mission launched when co-founders Kristina Clark, grant writer and sustainability consultant, and Christina Merino, former executive director of the Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition, were tasked with tackling the county’s drug overdose epidemic.
The Coalition was the first to bring the prescription drug issue to light with the Tennessee Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (DSAS). The Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition agreed to host one of the first disposal events in Tennessee. Due to the success of the event, it was obvious that prescription and over-the-counter medication disposal was needed in Coffee County. The Coalition worked with the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, Manchester Police Department and Tullahoma Police Department to establish a permanent drug disposal program, including drop boxes available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the lobbies of all three departments.
Though the take-back program provided a way to reduce access to prescription drugs for nonmedical use, it only got rid of old or unwanted medications. The Coalition responded to this issue by offering free home lock boxes to community members. The Coalition was making progress in decreasing access to prescription drugs for nonmedical use, but not the perception of harm. Many parents and caregivers still believed that prescription drugs were “safer” than street drugs. The Coalition needed medical professionals to be the voice of the campaign as the community at-large viewed them as experts on the topic of prescription drugs.
After many meetings with key stakeholders in the community, Count It! Lock It! Drop It!® (CLD) was born. In 2013, the Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition won a national Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Got Outcomes award for its work in reducing prescription drug abuse among youth in Coffee County, which included the success of the CLD program.
Today, CLD is actively represented in 95 counties across Tennessee. In 2017, the program’s goal is to expand to more counties throughout the state, particularly where prescription drug misuse is especially prevalent. The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation approved a grant in June 2016 to fund the program’s expansion to areas identified as “hot spots,” which are counties with high numbers of prescriptions dispensed, overdose deaths and babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.