Time to clean out medicine cabinets to protect kids, AG Cooper urges
Release date: 3/14/2014
Drug take back events scheduled across North Carolina March 15-22
Raleigh: North Carolinians are encouraged to safely dispose of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs March 15-22 as part of the fifth annual Operation Medicine Drop, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
Cooper, the State Bureau of Investigation, local sheriffs and police, the NC Department of Insurance, Safe Kids North Carolina, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are sponsoring prescription drug take-back events across North Carolina during National Poison Prevention Week.
“We want to get these drugs out of homes where kids and grandkids often get them leading to abuse or overdose,” Cooper said. “Clean out your medicine cabinet and bring any old medications to one of these free events for safe disposal.”
Operation Medicine Drop aims to cut down on prescription drug abuse by encouraging people to properly dispose of old drugs that they no longer need. Safely disposing of old medications through Operation Medicine Drop events instead of flushing them down the drain also prevents chemicals from polluting the water supply.
More than 100 Operation Medicine Drop events are scheduled across the state this week. See the complete list of events for times and locations, or search for events in your county.
Last year, more than 22 million doses of old prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected at events held across the state during March and October. Since Operation Medicine Drop started in 2009, approximately 52.8 million total doses have been turned in.
“Each pill turned in is one less pill that can be abused or misused,” Cooper said.
Nationwide, fatal drug overdoses are a leading cause of death due to unintentional injury, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Prescription and over-the-counter medications cause more than three-fourths of all unintentional poisonings in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Division of Public Health, and approximately 1,000 people die in North Carolina each year from overdosing on prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs abuse is increasingly common among teenagers because the drugs are incorrectly perceived as less dangerous than street drugs and because they are often easier to obtain. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national survey, among people ages 12-17, prescription drugs are the second most abused drug, behind marijuana. The survey also found that most people age 12 or older who abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend or family member for free.
“Prescription drugs actually kill far more people each year than illegal drugs do,” Cooper said. “It’s especially important that we get this message out to young people and their parents, since most teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from their home or a friend’s home.”
In addition to urging parents to clean out their medicine cabinets, Cooper is sponsoring a video contest for North Carolina high school students to help fight prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths. Students are asked to create 30 second public service announcement videos on the topic of teen prescription drug abuse. All students enrolled in grades nine through 12 in North Carolina are eligible to enter the Stop Rx Abuse contest and the top three entries will receive prizes.
More information about Operation Medicine Drop and the Stop Rx Abuse contest is available at www.ncdoj.gov.
Contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413