Operation Medicine Drop a safer option

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We urge local residents to take advantage of an opportunity to safely dispose of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs this week as part of Operation Medicine Drop.

A variety of agencies are sponsoring prescription drug take-back events throughout the state as part of National Poison Prevention Week. Participating agencies and organizations include the Attorney General’s office, the State Bureau of Investigation, local sheriff’s offices and police departments, the N.C. Department of Insurance, Safe Kids North Carolina and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Officials are encouraging people to clean out their medicine cabinets and bring old medications to one of the free events for safe disposal.

Several events will be held in the Twin Counties.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, people can visit the Rocky Mount Police Department, 330 S. Church St. in Rocky Mount. From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, people can visit the CVS Pharmacy located at 101 W. Washington St. in Nashville.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, people can visit Wal-Mart at 110 River Oaks Dr. in Tarboro or OIC at 402 E. Virginia St. in Rocky Mount. The event is designed to reduce prescription drug abuse by encouraging people to properly dispose of old drugs that are no longer needed. By safely disposing of medications through Operation Medicine Drop rather than flushing them down the drain, people also can prevent chemicals from polluting the water supply.

Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem.

Fatal drug overdoses are the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over-the-counter and prescription medications cause more than three-fourths of all unintentional poisonings in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Division of Public Health. Approximately 1,000 people in the state die every year from overdosing on prescription drugs.

Abuse of prescription drugs is becoming increasingly common among teenagers because prescription drugs often are easier to obtain than street drugs and because they often are incorrectly perceived as less dangerous. Prescription drugs are the second most abused drug behind marijuana among people ages 12 to 17, according to a national survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most people age 12 or older who abuse prescription drugs get them for free from a friend or family member, the survey found.

Parents, don’t take that risk with your children. Dispose of your old prescription and over-the-counter drugs this week.

High school students can help fight against prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths by participating in a video contest sponsored by Attorney General Roy Cooper. Students are being asked to create 30 second public service announcement videos that address the topic of teen prescription drug abuse. For more information, visit www.ncdoj.gov.