With increase in overdoses, Hamilton County Coalition launches free drug lockbox program

The Hamilton County Coalition is giving out more than 1,000 medication lockboxes and drug deactivation pouches for free.


Camilla Bibbs-Lee, executive director of the coalition, said handing out the lockboxes is part of an effort to keep people safe as they spend more time at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The program is funded through a grant with Tennessee's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.


"In this time where a lot of families, especially children and young adults, are around the home more, it's common for people to be accidental drug dealers," Bibbs-Lee said in a statement. "Our goal is to have lockboxes and deactivation pouches in as many homes as possible to keep medications safe from people it's not meant for, and to have unused or expired medications properly disposed of."


The coalition is giving out Helix Prescription Drug Security Cabinets, which include two keys, and the Deterra Drug Deactivation System, a pouch with which to dispose of unused medications.


Concerns about recovery and substance abuse increases began early in the pandemic, with advocates searching for new ways to connect people with needed services. Between January and April, there were 230 recorded drug overdoses in the Chattanooga area, compared to 107 during the same time period last year, according to the Hamilton County Coalition.


In Shelby County, there have been more drug overdoses than deaths from COVID-19. Since March 15, the county has seen more than 750 overdoses, which resulted in 112 deaths, according to local reporting.


The lockboxes and pouches can be ordered by visiting bit.ly/hamcotakebacks or calling 423-305-1449. Once ordered, the coalition offers contactless pickup at its office.


Contact Wyatt Massey at wmassey@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.

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