commissioner’s column: Kelly Fraasch

Almost eight months ago, a group of experts—counselors, educators, police officers, family members—gathered to talk about the impact of drugs in our community.

My eyes widened more and more throughout the two-hour conversation. By the time it was over, I was “all in” to do something to reduce drug use in Mt. Lebanon. I don’t want my kids or my neighbor’s kids or anyone to go through the suffering that addiction has caused in too many families in Mt. Lebanon.

I heard story after story. A young person experiments with over the counter drugs to get high or to “feel different.” Soon the experimenting turns into a  need to get high. Sustaining the new habit becomes expensive. The young person begins looking at other alternatives, a drug like heroin that’s cheaper and fairly easy to access. One or two poor choices can land a family into a life-or-death struggle, as they battle to save a loved one from addiction.

So began an outreach to the public about our key gateway to hardcore addictive drugs—prescription medications. The ones in everyone’s bathroom cabinet. Do you have a lock on that cabinet? Well, maybe not literally, but you should be as aware of what you have in your medicine cabinet as you might be of your liquor cabinet.

Our program, SAFE (Stop Addiction For Everyone) Lebo, is in its infancy and I feel like we need to do more, but I understand this will be a step by step process that needs to be around for the long term.

Our first step: Let’s work on access to gateway drugs. Prescription drugs like oxycodone might be necessary when recovering from surgery or an accident. But when the drugs are no longer needed, we need to get them out of our medicine cabinets, removing the temptation to abuse them. We now have a safe, responsible way to do this.

Mt. Lebanon has a drop box at the back entrance of the Public Safety Building, 555 Washington Road, where you can safely deposit all prescription or non-prescription drugs, and they will be properly incinerated by our police officers.

Depositing the drugs in this box instead of flushing them down the toilet or dumping them in the trash will not only keep from polluting our environment, but will also limit access to anyone who might want to experiment for a simple high.

Is Mt. Lebanon any different than other communities? No, not at all. Every community in the country faces this problem. By talking about our concerns about drug abuse and providing an opportunity to make a difference, we’re taking the first step. Please join us, open your cabinet and see what a difference you can make.