Communities battling the problem of heroin abuse have learned prescription drugs often serve as a "gateway."
Experimentation with prescriptions sometimes leads young people to develop addictions, and their addictions eventually could lead them to illegal substances such as heroin.
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With that in mind, Naperville officials soon will make 11 prescription drug drop-boxes available throughout the city to increase the ease of removing unwanted or expired prescriptions before they can fall into the wrong hands.
"The city wanted to offer ways for people to dispose of those drugs," spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said.
The boxes will be available beginning Tuesday at all 10 of the city's fire stations and the police department headquarters, 1350 Aurora Ave. The fire station drop-boxes will be open around the clock, while the police box will be available during the station's lobby hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Municipalities long have offered occasional prescription drug take-back events, but LaCloche said the 24/7 availability of Naperville's boxes will make it more convenient to quickly remove unwanted drugs from medicine cabinets.
"This drug drop-box allows them to come and bring those prescription drugs to any fire station 24/7," LaCloche said. "It's totally anonymous and they can drop them into this secured, tamper-resistant box for disposal."
Aside from taking away temptation for youths to use prescription drugs for a high, offering the boxes prevents the medications from being flushed down toilets and potentially contaminating the water supply.
The boxes at the fire stations will be mounted to an outdoor wall so they can be accessed any time. They will accept all prescription drugs, but not needles or syringes.
Naperville fire stations are located at 1380 Aurora Ave., 964 E. Chicago Ave., 601 E. Bailey Road, 1803 N. Washington St., 1971 Brookdale Road, 2191 Plainfield-Naperville Road, 2808 103rd St., 1320 Modaff Road, 1144 W. Ogden Ave. and 3201 95th St.