Between now and this Saturday, North Carolina residents can seize the opportunity to safely and responsibly clean out their medicine cabinets. A coalition of public health, child safety, law enforcement and environmental organizations teamed up to organize free “Take Back” events across the state. The groups want to keep drugs and medicines out of the wrong hands and public water supplies. They are promoting “Operation Medicine Drop” with advertisements and public service announcements across the state.
One such drop-off location will be available October 29 at Weaverville Methodist Church Fellowship Center, located at 90 North Main Street in Weaverville.
“If you have drugs that you don’t want anymore, you can bring them to one of these events and we’ll take them off your hands,” said Jennifer Canada with the State Bureau of Investigation. “We won’t ask any questions about what you have or how you got it.
“If you keep leftover drugs around, they might fall into wrong hands, like your kids’ or grandkids’,” said Kelly Ransdell of SafeKidsNC.
About 1 in 5 North Carolina teenagers have tried to get high with prescription medicine, and they usually get the drugs by stealing them from family and friends’ medicine cabinets. There are more deaths today from prescription drug overdoses than there were at the peak of the heroin crisis in the 1970s or the crack cocaine crisis of the 1990s.
“If you flush your leftover medicines down the toilet, they pollute our water,” said Heather Jacobs Deck, Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper, one of the sponsors. “Then everybody’s taking your medicine without a prescription.”
Government scientists have turned up traces of a wide variety of medicines -- pain killers, antibiotics, birth control pills, mood stabilizers, and others -- in rivers, lakes, and streams across the country. Studies are just now getting underway to determine if this pollution is dangerous to humans -- but evidence suggests that it is dangerous to animals. Many frog species are in serious decline and most bass in North Carolina’s Yadkin River have both male and female sex organs, and hormones are suspected as part of the cause.
Operation Medicine Drop organizers urge North Carolina residents to bring leftover medicines to these free events for safe and environmentally friendly disposal. Participants can drop off their medicines without answering any questions about what the drugs are or how they got them.
To find an Operation Medicine Cabinet Take Back event near you and get free tips on how to store and dispose of medicines safely, point your browser to http://www.omd-nc.org.