The Clinton Police Department wants your drugs, and they are setting aside a day where residents can bring them in, all in an effort to prevent accidental poisonings, abuse, theft and a tainted water supply.
It’s all part of the now annual Operation Medicine Drop, an event that has grown in popularity each of the four years city police have been involved in the statewide exercise.
“This is one of those things that caught on,” said police chief Jay Tilley. “The first year we didn’t have much participation; the second year, it doubled and last year it doubled again. Heck, we’re already getting calls from people asking when we are going to do it again.”
The when is Thursday March 21, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.; and the where is two locations — Walmart, 1415 Sunset Ave., and Clinton Drug, 307 Beaman St.
“We do this to keep old, unused, potentially dangerous drugs out of the hands of people who don’t need them,” Tilley stressed. “And, we do it so people won’t flush them down their toilets. When they do that, it’s flushing chemicals into the water supply, and we are doing our best to reduce that as well.”
Instead of flushing those prescriptions, police are urging residents to pack them up and carry them to one of the two dropoff locations.
“It’s a far better solution and it protects the water,” the police chief stressed.
It also, Sgt. Anthony Davis said, prevents use of those drugs by someone else.
“One of the biggest problems we see,” Tilley pointed out, “is people abusing prescription drugs. And there are a lot of old, expired, unused medicines sitting in medicine cabinets at mom and dad’s, grandma and grandpa’s.”
If the drugs are discarded — and in the proper manner — the temptation is no longer there to use them.
Even tossing them in the trash doesn’t prevent prescription medicines from getting into the hands of addicts or, even, curious children.
“Those who are addicted don’t have a problem rummaging through the trash in hopes of finding some drugs that were tossed out,” Tilley acknowledged. “We are looking to provide a safe way for people to discard of their medicines, a way that protects the environment and keeps them out of the wrong hands.”
That way is Medicine Drop, the officers asserted.
The operation is an effort coordinated by the N.C Department of Insurance, Safe Kids North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Riverkeepers of NC and local groups. It’s focus is on preventing accidental poisonings, substance abuse and to protect the waterways.
Since 2010, over 1,000 sites have collected over 30 million dosage untis of medication during take-back events statewide.
“Every year we collect and destroy a dosage of excess medication, it’s a success,” said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin in a prepared statement. “I commend the Clinton Police Department, Walmart and Clinton Drug for actively engaging their community in this very important initiative, and I thank the public for taking responsibility to dispose of medications in a safe, secure way.”
The Clinton police, Davis noted, have taken in over 40,000 units since they began participating in the program. And he and Tilley expect that number to keep on growing because of its popularity among residents.
The service, the pair said, is free and anonymous. Members of the Neighborhood Improvement Team will be at both sites collecting the medications and, in turn, charged with disposing of them in the most sanitary and safe manner possible.
Those turning in medicine, Davis stressed, should not take labels off. “We will make sure everyone’s identity is protected, but if the labels are not on them, we aren’t allowed to take them.”
With unintentional poisoning deaths on the rise in the state, Goodwin, on behalf of Operation Medicine Drop, reminds parents and caregivers to:
* Keep medications locked up and out of reach of children.
* Always read labels, follow directions and give medicines to children based on their weights and ages. Only use the dispensers packaged with children’s medications.
* Avoid taking medicine or vitamins in front of children, and don’t ever call them candy.
* If you suspect poisoning and a child is choking, collapses, can’t breathe or is having a seizure, call 911. Otherwise, take the product to the phone and call the national Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
For more information about Operation Medicine Drop go to www.ncsafekids.org.