Operation Medicine Drop helps combat drug abuse, pollution

Published 12:45 am Saturday, March 24, 2018

While drug abuse presents many challenges to society, the impact of prescription drug abuse has become a serious concern in recent years, especially with regards to powerful drugs such as opioids.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, at Lowe’s Hardware on Carolina Avenue, Beaufort County residents can safely dispose of their medications as a part of the county’s Operation Medicine Drop initiative.

Held twice a year through a partnership between the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Safe Kids North Carolina and the N.C. Department of Insurance, Operation Medicine Drop serves the dual purpose of getting powerful prescription drugs off the street and preventing improper disposal into Beaufort County’s waterways.

“This helps deter crime,” BCSO Investigator Greg Rowe said. “People will break into houses when controlled substances are involved. We’re just trying to get them out of the hands of people who don’t need them any longer.”

Rowe says that the program has been in place for a number of years in Beaufort County, and that each collection results in thousands of dosage units being collected. Medications are broken down and divided into controlled substances, prescription and over the counter medications before they are incinerated.

“Especially with the opioid epidemic going on, there’s dangers of people getting on prescription pain meds and getting strung out,” BCSO Narcotics Lieutenant Russell Davenport said “Now with people overdosing on fentanyl, its pretty much a necessary to try and get these drugs off the street when we can.”

Davenport went on to say that in many cases, cancer patients and individuals with chronic illnesses are prescribed powerful drugs that have a potential for abuse.

“When people pass away, we’ve had family members call and turn those medicines over to us,” Davenport said.

Davenport says that turning over these medicines can help reduce the likelihood of break-ins and thefts committed by individuals who may be addicted to the drugs.

In addition to the two annual Operation Medicine Drop events, the BCSO also has a permanently mounted drop box at the Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t take needles or liquids in our drop box, but we can take those types of substances at the drop off event,” Rowe said.