SAFE Lebo seeks to curb drug abuse
SAFE Lebo is a community task force that aims to halt the rising tide of substance abuse in Mt. Lebanon. Recently, it unveiled a secure prescription drug disposal box at the municipality’s Public Safety Center, accessible 24 hours a day. The box provides a safe location where residents can dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.
SAFE (short for Stop Addiction for Everyone) Lebo began in early 2013 as a joint effort between school director Josephine Posti and commissioner Kelly Fraasch. The community had experienced a spate of drug overdoses over the previous year. Opiates such as heroin killed six residents of different ages and backgrounds. Prescription drug abuse often leads to heroin addiction as heroin is cheaper and frequently more readily available than pills.
According to statistics from DrugFree.org posted on the SAFE Lebo website, 24 percent of teens admitted misusing or abusing a prescription drug in their lifetime in 2012. That’s up from 18 percent in 2008 and equates to about 5 million nationwide.
Posti said addiction has become less of a taboo topic because of its impact on communities in Western Pennsylvania. “What’s unique about the SAFE initiative is how we took the strong working relationship between the school district, municipality and police and strengthened it by bringing in faith leaders, rehabilitation services, Judge Larotonda and medical professionals to address an issue that impacts the entire community.”
She added that the new drop box is both a resource for the community and a conversation starter. “It’s helped to encourage conversation among our neighbors about an issue many people haven’t considered.”
The next major event for SAFE Lebo will be a panel discussion at noon on Nov. 11, 2013. The discussion will be broadcast on local cable stations and will include representatives from law enforcement, rehabilitation and the medical community. According to Posti the discussion will center on how opiate addiction impacts the community, as well as what residents can do to protect neighbors and family members.
Educational materials for residents of all ages are available on the SAFE Lebo website. They include tips for recognizing signs of addiction and resources for getting help.