Who Is Using YOUR Prescription Drugs?

By: Jordyn Schara

Wellness , Activist

When I was 14 years old, a local boy, my same age took a friend’s grandmother’s prescription drugs to get high, and he lost his life as a result. This hit me profoundly and motivated me to increase awareness of the dangers prescription drug abuse can have as well as provide communities with proper disposal of these hazardous drugs.

Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Overdose deaths involving these drugs more than tripled from 1999 to 2010, with more than 16,000 death in that year. By contrast, heroin overdoses totaled less than 8,000.

The misuse and improper disposal of prescription drugs is an international issue. More people abuse prescription drugs than they do heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines combined.  Improperly disposed drugs often end up in water sources, causing health problems for both people and animals, especially water inhabitants such as frogs and fish. DO NOT flush any medications. For more information on home disposal you can visit the FDA and The White House Office of National Drug control policies.

Additionally, news stories about deaths caused by the misuse of drugs are on the rise. Sadly, I discovered through my research that not many people are doing anything about it. I am working hard to inspire other youth to join in our community service efforts of making our world a safer place, both environmentally and for global human health & safety. 

My name is Jordyn and I held my first drug disposal drive in September 2009 at a police station and collected 440 pounds of medication. The following year, I collected another 370 pounds and to date, through my nonprofit organization HOPE (Helping Our Peers Excel), I have collected over 1,000,000 pounds of drugs to date!

Collecting drugs should be a day-to-day effort.

I researched laws regarding the issue to make sure I wouldn’t be breaking any rules with my project. I also looked for other programs that were directly addressing these issues. I found a science teacher by the name of Paul Ritter, who started a 24/7 drop-off collection box, and we incorporated that into our own program.

I contacted local officials and organizations, such as the mayor and police officers to create events where people can drop off their unneeded drugs with a no questions asked policy. I discovered that many people had lost loved ones due to a chronic disease such as cancer and no longer needed the drugs. They were relieved to have a safe way to dispose of them, lowering the risk of attracting people to break in and steal them for illegal sales.

I help police departments set up their own 24/7 drug collection programs by purchasing their container, flyers, plastic temporary storage containers, flyers, posters, rubber gloves, etc.  The programs are basically self-sustainable because the DEA has finally gotten on board and started bi-annual collection programs themselves.  I instruct my programs to clean out their 24/7 containers weekly and store the drugs in large plastic storage containers until the DEA has their event, then drop off all their drugs at the DEA event so they have to pay to incinerate them.  So far this has been working well for the last several years.  Some people ask why I continue my program if the DEA is doing their twice a year and I tell them that until the DEA incorporates a 24/7 program, the problem still exists.  The DEA forces people to save their drugs at home (usually unsecured) for months.  This is where the kids, friends, strangers come and steal them.  Prescription drug abuse is the gateway to heroin. So far, I have started 10 programs in Wisconsin and am working on several more.

Equally as important is making sure the disposal is following State and Federal laws to protect people and animals from future harm. Through pharmacies, only licensed pharmacists and assistants handle the returned pharmaceuticals and place them into secure bins. When the bins fill up, pharmacists send them off to be incinerated. Through the police department, only evidence officers handle returned pharmaceuticals and place them into secure bins. They are disposed of through environmentally conscious companies that incinerate the pharmaceuticals in a way that creates energy used to power homes and businesses. The most costly element of my program is the destruction of the drugs by incineration; however, it is the safest way to totally get rid of the drugs. It can be done by paying a facility, or buying an incinerator for your local police department or other community official. The latter requires a higher up-front investment, but is lower-cost in the long run.

Below is a list of supporting documents and different ways people can help:

PRIORITY #1: Hold A Prescription Drug Drop-Off Campaign

Steps to hold a community-wide prescription drug "No Questions Asked" drop-off campaign

PRIORITY #2: Voice Your Concern To Government Officials

Although it can be more challenging to create change in the government, legislative support of the proper disposal of drugs is helpful to enforcing change.

PRIORITY #3: Create A Sustainable Long-Term Drug Collection Site

Create a sustainable long-term drug collection site

PRIORITY #4: Spread Awareness of Proper Disposal

Often, people who don’t know about the problem don’t even realize that it causes problems to flush their drugs down the toilet.

PRIORITY #5: Educate Your Family and Friends On Propper Home Storage

Many people do not know the dangers related to impropper storage of prescription drugs in their home.


curriculum you can use to learn more about this issue

  • In 2009 Jordyn Schara started Foundation HOPE, Helping Our Peers Excel. This nonprofit organization launched Project READ, Reading Equipment for America’s Defenders, in which she organized her community to send more than 1,800 pounds of reading material to troops overseas. Schara also led WI P2D2, Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal, project, which educated the public about prescription drug abuse and how to properly dispose of unwanted drugs through collection programs and 24/7 drug disposal boxes. Her third community service project C4C, Comics 4 Change, established comic book libraries in her school district to engage struggling young readers so they develop the critical skills necessary to read more challenging works.


Comics 4 Change

Feb. 22, 2016

Currently I'm working on a new project called "Comics for Change" or C4C.

We are working with teens, parents, children, teachers and business leaders to collect and purchase comics to distribute to underserved youth to help them improve their reading skills. The goal of C4C is to use the popular genre of comic books and graphic novels to motivate students to read, which is especially useful in hooking those reluctant readers that have difficulty going from picture books to novels.

A recent study at the University of Oklahoma suggests that instead of focusing on whether we should be using a digital or physical format for school books – perhaps we should be looking into using a format that helps students retain more information. A professor had one group of college seniors read passages from a traditional business textbook while he had a second group read the same information from a graphic novel. The professor then gave both groups of students a quiz on the information and found that those who read from the graphic novel retained more information and could even recognize direct quotes.

In another study, this same professor discovered that 80 percent of students preferred the graphic novel format and were more engaged students.

So far we have given away over 2,000 comics and will continue to give them out to students in need and inspire young people to develope a life-long love of reading in order to improve their academic and literary skills.

Points Of Lights

Sept. 22, 2015

Points Of Light recently profiled the work I have done with Helping Our Peers Excel, or HOPE, which recognizes, educates and inspires youth to grow by utilizing community service and volunteerism as tools to encourage them to take action and make a difference in the world. 


How I Became A Social Entrepreneur

KooDooZ - a youth advocacy architecture firm sponsored this video:– (2013)

Achievements I'm Proud Of

Magnificent Kids!” by Kerryn Vaughan (2014). Featured in Kerryn Vaughan’s book about 23 extraordinary kids worldwide who are leading by example.  http://www.magnificentkids.com.au/meet-the-superheroes.html

Brave Girls/Keds/Taylor Swift Career Grant (March, 2014). Was chosen to receive a $1,000 grant to help with my WI P2D2 program.

Refuge Smoothie Café – The Jordyn Schara Smoothie (2013). Named their smoothies for Wisconsinites who have helped improve the community in some notable way http://onmilwaukee.com/dining/articles/refugesmoothiecafeopen.html?36979.

Teen Life magazine article – (January, 2014). Featured in their Amazing Teen series.  http://lnkd.in/bayn4mr  http://teenlife.uberflip.com/i/267361/0

Top 24 Under 24  Drug Mythbusters (2014). Chosen as 1 of 24 young adults in the nation who are informing and empowering their peers to make decisions about drugs based on facts, not rumors, myths or peer pressure, http://sparkaction.org/24under24-mythbusters;

Seventeen magazine (February 2014). Featured in the February edition of Seventeen magazine for Best Couple in America with my boyfriend, http://www.wiscnews.com/news/local/article_1aadaaa5-b77a-5fdb-874c-d1ce4fee4c40.html

VolunteenNation.org “Inspiration and Hope” Article (August, 2013), http://www.volunteennation.org/blog/categories/latest-news/330-inspiration-and-hope

Capricho - Brazil’s teen magazine - (2013). Interviewed for Brazil’s popular teen magazine Capricho about my volunteering programs, http://planetasustentavel.abril.com.br/noticia/atitude/jordyn-schara-ensino-aprendi-voluntariado-744588.shtml

I never imagined that giving back to my community would give me a "golden" opportunity to carry the Olympic torch.  It was one of the more incredible experiences of my life. That said, I am grateful for the many moments of recognition.  (Watch my video, or see the snapshot below)

London Summer Olympics -  Torchbearer (July, 2012) for Coca Cola

2013 GoDaddy.com - .ME Scholarship (2013) "Tech-forward" students competed to win a $10,000 scholarship for college tuition. 

National Winner - TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship (2013) The TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship recognizes students who demonstrate a core Citizens Bank value – improving their communities. Since its launch in 2011, more than $150,000 has been awarded to high school seniors and current college students across the country who are attending, or have been accepted to a federally accredited four-year college, university or graduate program.

National Winner - Lowe's Scholarship (2013) The Lowe's scholarship program has awarded more than $2.4 million in scholarships since 2007, benefiting nearly 1,200 students.

National Winner - NFIB Young Entrepreneur Scholarship (2013) Since 2003, the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation has awarded over 2,300 scholarships to graduating high school seniors totaling more than $2.5 million.  The NFIB was established to raise awareness among the nation’s youth of the critical role that private enterprise and entrepreneurship play in the building of America. 

Alliant Energy Community Service Scholarship (2013) The Alliant Energy Foundation offers a new scholarship opportunity to recognize outstanding community leadership in young people and help students reach their academic goals.

Hometown Hero -  Wisconsin State Assembly (2013) The award honors individuals who strive to make a difference in their communities.

National Winner - State Farm Good Neighbor Award (2013) Every year, the State Farm Youth Advisory Board funds up to $5 million to youth-led service learning projects to solve issues important to State Farm and communities across the United States and Canada. 

National Winner - AXA Achiever (2013) Through AXA Achievement, AXA Equitable is one of the nation’s largest corporate providers of scholarships — awarding more than $1.3 million a year. In addition to the $670,000 in AXA Achievementsm Scholarships awarded annually through this national scholarship, the AXA Achievements Community Scholarship awards up to an additional $750,000 in annual scholarships. Through this program and the financial education services the company provides, AXA Equitable is a comprehensive resource for information to help students and parents with college planning. 

National Judge - Prudential Spirit of Community Awards (2013) Over the past 18 years, more than 345,000 young Americans have participated in the program, and more than 100,000 of them have been officially recognized for their volunteer efforts. The program's goals are to applaud young people who already are making a positive difference in their towns and neighborhoods, and to inspire others to think about how they might contribute to their communities. The program was created in 1995 by Prudential in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to honor middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state, and national level.

Coca-Cola National Scholar (2013) Since 1989, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has helped dreams come true for more than 5,000 outstanding students. In high school, these students began their journey of academic excellence, positive leadership and dedication to service. They are continuing throughout their careers to serve others and realize their full potential to change the world and create an enduring legacy.

World Citizenship Award from Scouts of the World (2012) Launched in 1996, the award is given to people outside the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting movement who have contributed to a better world in at least one of the following areas - peace, environment, education, food and nutrition, health, and culture and heritage.

My Teacher, My Hero (2012) It isn’t every day a teacher wins a big cash prize because one of her students wrote an essay about her. But that's exactly what happened when I nominated Tracy Chambras, my high school English teacher as a "hero."

Finding Fearless (2012) The Case Foundation, created by Steve Case and Jean Case in 1997, invests in people and ideas that can change the world. They create and support initiatives that leverage new technologies and entrepreneurial approaches to drive innovation in the social sector and encourage individuals to get involved with the communities and causes they care about.

Farm Rich Kids Who Give (2012) A national program focused on young people, ages 7 to 17, who dedicate their time and energy to improving the lives of others.

Make A Difference Day (2012)- Featured in USA Today for C4C (Comics 4 Change) Make A Difference Day, created by USA WEEKEND Magazine and held in partnership with Points of Light on the fourth Saturday of each October, tracks the day's events at makeadifferenceday.com. All registered participants are eligible for $10,000 charitable awards from longtime sponsor Newman's Own. 

Glamour Magazine – Woman of the Year Readers' Choice Award – National Finalist (2012)

Brower Youth Award – National Finalist (2010, 2012) Since 2000, the Brower Youth Awards has recognized 61 exceptional leaders with a cash prize, a high-energy week of activities in San Francisco, and ongoing leadership support. NLI also offers mentoring and project sponsorship to rising young leaders.

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