CROOKED RIVER RANCH, Ore. -

In a collaboration between BestCare Prevention, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue, a 24-hour medication return box has been installed at the fire station. 

It is Jefferson County's third medication collection box. The other two are at the Jefferson County Sheriff's office and at City Hall in Culver.

The goal is to cut down on substance abuse.

"Off the street, out of people's medicine cabinets," Cindy Brockett, a prevention specialist with BestCare, said Thursday "We take anything from prescription medications, vitamins, pet medications -- anything that could become problematic."

The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing concern for law enforcement agencies.

"We see more and more of it," said Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins. "We want to stop kids from getting their parents unused drugs."

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise nationwide.

A recent governmental report (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/issues-content/prescription-drugs/rx_abuse_plan_0.pdf) on substance abuse finds prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs among young people, after marijuana.

Of those, 70 percent get the pills from friends and family while only 5 percent get them from drug dealers or the Internet.

At the center of the problem are heavy painkillers like Oxycodone. Opiate overdoses used to be almost always due to heroin, but now people increasingly overdose on painkillers.

"Our main focus at BestCare Prevention office is to cut down on substance abuse, and with that is the prescription medication that people unfortunately find themselves addicted to," Brockett said.

An increasing number of heavy painkillers are in circulation.

From 1997 to 2007, the amount of opioids prescribed per person has increased by 402 percent.

"It's all about community risk reduction," said Crooked River Ranch Fire Chief Richard Hoffmann. "Any time that we can reduce the number of calls by having a box like this to get those medicines of the streets and out of the cupboards is beneficial for our crews."