If you’ve got it, drop it off

Published 6:02 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

Morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, meperidine, Vicodin — they’re all prescription painkillers, thus at the root of an epidemic that has swept the country.

They are prescribed legally. But many don’t use them legally: just this week a Chocowinity couple was arrested for allegedly selling the painkillers they had gotten by legal means.

It’s difficult to stop the forward momentum of an epidemic of addiction when the addictive substance is legally obtained.

But there is one way: removing the temptation.

Today is the DEA’s 14th-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Across the nation, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., thousands of collection sites will be set up as an effort to rid homes of potentially, dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. In Beaufort County, that site will be at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Washington, where investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office drug unit will be hosting Operation Medicine Drop.

Many people are given prescriptions for pain medication after surgery or for other painful short-term ailments. Often, the pain clears up before the bottle of pills is emptied, so that bottle ends up occupying a shelf in a bathroom medicine cabinet. Perhaps it is forgotten. Perhaps the fully recovered patient wants to keep those pills “just in case” of a relapse. But “just in case” might translate to those pills being stolen and either sold or used to feed an opioid addiction. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon Jr.

“With the spiraling drug overdose and death rates facing our country, it is critical that we all do our part to reduce opportunity and temptation which can lead to abuse. The DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Program is an important opportunity for all of us to play our part in this effort. It is a ‘no questions asked’ chance for members of our community to help fight prescription drug abuse directly. I urge all of the citizens of the Eastern District to do their part.”

Ninety-one Americans die every day from opioid overdoses; four out of five new heroin users started with painkillers, the release states. Those people exist right here in Beaufort County.

So, empty out that medicine cabinet. Take a trip to Lowe’s today. It might just save a life.

Drop-off sites cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps — only pills or patches.