100 pounds of unused drugs collected
Published 8:47 pm Monday, March 23, 2015
Those visitors to Lowes Home Improvement last Saturday may have been wondering at the set up at the back of the parking lot: Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office vehicles and investigators, along with a steady stream of traffic on a perfect spring day.
The investigators were with the narcotics unit. The traffic, those in the market to get rid of medications no longer wanted or needed, instead of allowing them to linger in home medicine cabinets or, worse, dumping them down the toilet to end up in the local waters. At the end of the day, investigators collected nearly 70,000 dosage units of prescription and over-the-counter medications, 20,000 of which were controlled substances.
”I think the numbers kind of speak for themselves,” said Investigator Greg Rowe, whose job it is to track down those diverting controlled substances. “People want to keep them out of the water systems, out of the landfills and to protect their family or loved ones — to keep kids from getting ahold of them and prevent poisoning from unknown medications.”
The event, called Operation Medicine Drop, is DEA sanctioned and the drugs collected are bound for the incinerator at the Beaufort County Animal Shelter. While the sheriff’s office installed a permanent drug drop box in the lobby of its office on North Market Street last year, Rowe said the medicine drop events still serve a purpose.
“I think there was a little less traffic and I think the box has helped out with that. We still had some people who are not aware of the box who were stockpiling to this date. I guess we had less traffic, more drugs,” Rowe said. “Many of them had medications that they didn’t know what to do with.”
Rowe said a lot of the schedule II and schedule III substances, like hydrocodone and OxyContin, are delivered by cancer patients or their loved one, and it is especially important to remove unused controlled substances like these from the home, Rowe said.
“Criminals know who’s sick and who’s not — they keep an eye on that stuff. That’s a lot of breaking and enterings. They know the medicine’s in there and they’re looking for the opportunity,” Rowe said.
Operations like Operation Medicine Drop and the permanent drop box are both ways the drug unit is trying to cut down on controlled substances getting into the wrong hands.
“They help people get it out of the household,” Rowe said.
Prescription drugs and controlled substances can be anonymously dropped into the drop box during sheriff’s office normal business hours: Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.