BRANSON, Mo. – Opioid abuse cases are growing across the country and here in the Ozarks.

Area organizations in Stone and Taney counties are urging people to drop off unused and unwanted prescription drugs at various drop box locations.

They said it’s critical to make sure they don’t get into the wrong hands.

“It can get into the hands of children, dogs, other people, illegal uses for getting other people’s prescription drugs,” said ADAPT Coalition member, Cris Bohinc. “Of course, what is relevant to everybody is that it gets in our drinking water, our lakes.”

With a lot of people having prescriptions in their homes that they no longer use, the drop-offs allow for a safe way to dispose of medications.

“It’s shocking the number of people that bring the drugs,” said Bohinc. “Some, maybe for a sad reason. Maybe they’ve had a loss of an elderly family member that has been on a ton of drugs, or that they’ve never cleaned through old aspirin or Tylenol.”

One of the drop off locations is at the Branson Police Department.

“Generally, when we deal with youth and prescription medication, when we asked how they obtained it, very rarely is it from the typical drug dealer,” said E.J. Jones with the Branson Police Department. “They generally get it from aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas.”

Organizations involved said dropping off unused drugs is critical on more than just National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. 

They said medication misuse is at the forefront of their minds.

“Nobody, I think, ever wakes up and wants to become addicted to narcotics or anything like that, but it does start small,” said Jones. “Then, like most problems, they snowball.”

The Branson Police Department said at their most recent take-back event, they received 215 pounds of unused medication.