ST. CLOUD -- With prescription drug abuse continuing to become a growing concern, a new campaign hopes to combat the issue.

St. Cloud law enforcement, community leaders and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) launched the "MyOldMeds Minnesota" campaign Thursday.

Caitlin Carroll is the Director of Communication for PhRMA. She says the campaign is meant to bring awareness to proper prescription drug use, storage and disposal.

"Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic and can't be ignored. It's a public health problem that requires everyone's effort to solve the problem," says Carroll.

Statistics say most first time users obtain prescription drugs from a friend or relative. This is mainly because most drugs are kept in an unsecured place where they are easily accessible.

St. Cloud District 742 School Board Chair Les Green says he's experienced this problem first hand, after first abusing prescription drugs when he was 14 years old.

"The first thing we did when we went to someone's houses was go into the bathroom and look into the medicine cabinet. It's very important to not only get rid of the medications the right way but to get rid of them quickly," says Green.

Improper disposal of prescription drugs can not only harm ourselves, family, and friends but also our echo system.

In 2011 Stearns County installed three medication drop-off boxes, which the county disposed of 1500 pounds of unwanted medication.

To date, Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold says every police station in Stearns County has a medication drop-off box, which is expect to dispose of over 5400 pounds of unwanted medications.

The MyOldMeds Minnesota campaign aims to raise awareness about the simple steps we can take to keep our communities health and secure for generations to come.

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)