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Operation Medicine Drop smashes local record

Originally published: Mar. 21, 2013
Last modified: Mar. 21, 2013

Adam Orr

Stepped up collection efforts in 2012 led to a record number of prescription medications collected during Operation Medicine Drop, according to information released by Ashe County Sheriff's Office on March 14.

A joint effort of the ACSO, National Committee for the New River and county government, more than 87,000 dosage units of medication were collected in 2012, more than doubling the 40,000 dosage units collected in 2010, and nearly tripling the amount collected in 2011.

Collection efforts in March, June and October at area partners, including Food Lion, Ingles, Warrensville Drug and Ashe Services for Aging collected more than 55,000 dosage units, according to the ACSO, but the inclusion of a year round drop-off point at Ashe County Sheriff's Office also proved to be a success.

"On Aug. 1, the ACSO established a Medicine Drop Box program," according to ACSO Detective Phil Howell. "The Drop Box program allows anyone who wishes, to dispose of their unused medication by visiting our office."

Anyone wishing to dispose of their medication can stop by the second floor of the Sheriff's Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"Between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, a total of 32,374 dosage units were collected through our Drop Box program," according to Howell.

All collected medication was incinerated.

"We hope the events held keep medicines out of the hands of the irresponsible and out of the rivers," Howell said. "With unintentional poisoning deaths on the rise in the state, Operation Medicine Drop reminds parents and caregivers to keep medicines locked up and out of reach of children."

More than 150 events were held across North Carolina last year to fight prescription drug abuse. Statewide, North Carolinians turned in approximately 8.5 million doses of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs during Operation Medicine Drop events on Sept. 29, according to N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper.

That beats the previous record of approximately 7.7 million doses collected in March 2012.

"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," Cooper said.

Among the 11,000 pounds of drugs collected were painkillers such as Hydrocodone, Oxycontin 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."

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.