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A statewide campaign to fight prescription drug abuse netted 8.5 million pills from throughout the state. Brunswick County collected just more than 1 million unwanted or no-longer needed pills.
According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, Brunswick County led the state in collections of dosage units of prescription and over-the-counter drugs during the Operation Medicine Drop campaign in late September.
Statewide Brunswick County more than doubled the numbers of other areas participating. With more than 1 million doses, the next closest was the Union County Sheriff’s Office which collected about 500,000 pills, and the Greensboro Police Department which collected about 475,000 units.
Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said he is pleased with the participation of Brunswick County citizens. He reiterated how important this operation is in helping reduce the amount of out-of-date medications on the streets.
Most events statewide were on Sept. 29. The 8.5 million doses collected topped the previous record of 7.7 million doses collected in March of this year.
“North Carolinians cleaned out their medicine cabinets and turned in more unused drugs than ever before, keeping potentially dangerous drugs from being misused or abused,” said Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Cooper, the State Bureau of Investigation, local law enforcement agencies, Safe Kids North Carolina and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsored more than 150 prescription drug take-back events in 60 counties by 98 agencies across the state.
The Ocean Isle Beach Police Department was one of the agencies that participated in the statewide campaign. They collected prescription drugs in the Lowes Foods parking lot.
“The medicine drop was a huge success,” said chief John Goodwin of Ocean Isle Beach. “We took over 16,500 doses or 38 pounds of medicine off the streets. If anyone still has stuff they want to get rid of we can go ahead and take it and dispose of it, as the next one won’t be until March.”
Among the 11,000 pounds of drugs collected statewide were painkillers such as hydrocodone, oxycotin and fentanyl, all of which can be highly addictive and even deadly if abused.
“More and more young people are abusing prescription drugs, and most of them get the drugs from their own home or a friend’s home,” Cooper said. “By getting unused drugs out of our homes, we can help fight this epidemic.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nationwide, fatal drug overdoses are the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury. Statistics published by the N.C. Division of Public Health reflect that 1,000 people died in North Carolina last year from overdosing on prescription drugs.
The N.C. Department of Justice reports that among people ages 12-17, prescription drugs are now the second most abused drug behind marijuana.
Another concern is contamination of the water supply. Medications that are disposed of by flushing them down the drain can cause chemicals to end up in the water supply.
The SBI gathered the 8.5 million pills collected by local law enforcement agencies and took them to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved incinerator in Alamance County for safe destruction.
Locally Ingram asks citizens to continue to drop off all old or unused prescriptions at designated drop-off locations (South end substation, Leland, North end substation, Calabash or the sheriff’s office in Bolivia).
He also commended the Brunswick County Vice and Narcotics agents for their continued hard work and efforts in making this operation successful