The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office and East Texas Substance Abuse Coalition are teaming up to fight drug abuse.

On Thursday, a drug drop box was installed in the lobby at the Rusk County Justice Center. People will be able to drop off unwanted or old prescription drugs.

It is free to use and the lobby is open every day, 24 hours a day.

"By collecting medications off the streets, especially opioids, highly addictive medications, we are going to reduce the ease of access for our young people," said Susan Anderson, coordinator for the East Texas Substance Abuse Coalition.

Anderson says it is especially important in an area where prescription drugs are easier to access compared to the national average.

"When we are talking about East Texas, we have a higher availability to prescription drugs,” said Anderson. “More prescriptions are written per capita."

Officials say the opioid epidemic is growing nationwide, including in East Texas.

“A lot of the kids that we are talking to, we are finding out that it's the prescription drugs that they're more into than the street drugs and where they're getting them from is from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, guardians," said Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Price.

Stacie Campbell is a Certified Relapse Prevention Specialist at ‘Son Shine Lighthouse’ in New London. She said she knows the dangers of prescription drugs all too well, having become addicted herself.

“It started with one, then it went to two, then it was four a day then eight a day then ten a day,” said Campbell.

Like many people who get hooked on opioids, Campbell said she resorted to stealing prescription drugs from her friends and family members. That's why she says properly storing and disposing of prescription drugs is key when fighting the epidemic.

“Unfortunately, if you want to find them, you can find them, so hiding them in various places does not work,” said Campbell. “They need to be locked up. It's a narcotic, it's serious."

‘Son Shine Lighthouse’ is a transitional home for women who are recovering from substance abuse. Women who go through the program are not charged and the facility runs solely on donations.

You can donate online to ‘Son Shine Lighthouse’ through the organization’s website.