ZEBULON — The success of a recent unused and unwanted medication drive has the Zebulon Police Department considering a permanent collection box for such items at its headquarters.
In holding Operation Medicine Drop – a joint-effort of numerous state organizations and law enforcement agencies promoting proper medication disposal – Zebulon police over two days collected more than 23,000 dosage units, including pills and liquids.
“That’s everything from over-the-counter meds, to controlled substances, vitamins and unidentified pills,” said Det. Pete Smith, who coordinated the drive.
On the first day of the drive, March 22, the Police Department stockpiled more than 13,600 dosage units in a collection box stationed at Zebulon Drug. The next day, at the Zebulon Walmart, police tallied about 9,300 more units.
It marked the second time Zebulon Police participated in Operation Medicine Drop, and the results greatly overshadowed those of its first drive held three years ago.
“I think we got just over 2,000 dosage units from our one-day event in 2010,” Smith said. “People are becoming more aware these things don’t need to be just thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet.”
Based on the volume collected at the drive, Zebulon police Chief Tim Hayworth sees a need to continue to provide a drop-off location in town. A permanent fixture in the Police Department lobby could cost around $800 that isn’t in the budget at this time, but Hayworth considers it a needed service worthy of a fundraising effort.
“We’ve seen the most significant increase in the abuse of prescription drugs than we have in any other drug over the last few years,” Hayworth said. “There are numbers out from Attorney General’s office that indicated in the state of North Carolina there are three people every day that die from prescription drug overdose.”
Medications no longer being used that continue to rest in storage in medicine cabinets often lead to drug abuse, according to Hayworth.
“Many times, people have (prescription) drugs at home and didn’t use all of them, and they have this almost-full bottle or half-full bottle of pain killers in their medicine cabinet,” Hayworth said.
He said the longer medications sits on shelves, the longer the opportunity for someone to steal them for personal use or profit.
“Or a kid gets curious about it, takes some of the medication, not knowing what it is, and it can cause a really dangerous situation,” Hayworth said.
The other entity being protected through initiatives like Operation Medicine Drop is the environment. If the police department follows through with its plan to install a drop box, it will give residents a place other than the trash can or the toilet to dispose of their medications.
“In the old days, we used to tell people to flush them down the toilet,” Hayworth said. “We now know that flows back into the ecosystem, so we no longer advise doing that.”