DOBSON — Misuse of prescription drugs is a growing concern across the country and here locally. County officers have been doing their part — not just through law enforcement, but through a drug drop-off program.
It’s hard to imagine two deputies collecting 16,000 pills in less than a few hours, stated the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, but that is just what happened last week during a Medication Take-Back event held at the Surry County Government Center here in Dobson.
Several times a year, deputies are joined by employees of the Surry County Wellness Department to allow members of the community to turn in expired or unneeded medications from their homes. All the collected medications are turned over to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation for destruction.
The most recent Medication Take-Back was on Sept. 19 where the sheriff’s office collected 16,129 individual pills along with two bottles of liquid morphine. This comes after a similar event in March collected 10,685 pills.
“Our two most successful programs have been this year at the Surry County Government Center,” said Sheriff Jimmy Combs.
In 2018 alone, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office has collected more than 30,000 pills from Surry County residents through the medication take-back program. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office has a drop box in its lobby that anyone can utilize. To drop off medications, just remove the label and bring it in during normal business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 54 million people have used prescription medications for nonmedical reasons at least once in their lifetime. The NIDA determined one of the factors contributing to misuse by kids was ease of access within the home.
The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
“This program takes all those pills and gets them out of reach of your kids and your grandkids and other children who are visiting your home,” Combs said. “Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. Therefore we have to look at combating drug use and addiction from several aspects.”
One aspect is education. In the 2017-2018 school year, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Surry County Schools and implemented the Middle School D.A.R.E. curriculum in the seventh-grade classes to complement the lessons children learned earlier in fifth grade with the Elementary School D.A.R.E. curriculum.
“Last year, we had 671 children to graduate from the new middle school D.A.R.E. program,” Combs said.
Another aspect is prevention and programs like the medication take-backs are crucial to help prevent drug abuse by preventing access.
“When it comes to drug dealers and traffickers, the narcotics division can run interdiction and make arrests, but it will have little effect on protecting our children if their prescription drug supply is coming from the medicine cabinets of family and friends,” Combs said.
“Keep medications under lock and key. Or for the price of a gallon of gas, you can bring unused or expired medications to the Surry County Sheriff’s Office or to a medicine drop.”
Future locations for medication drops will be advertised. Any company or organization interested in scheduling a medicine drop off can contact the Surry County Sheriff’s Office at 336-401-8900.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has announced a National Take-Back Day on Oct. 27, with times and locations to be announced in early October on the DEA website at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.