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The Daily Tar Heel

Prescription boxes installed to curb drug abuse

In 2011 the county’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee conducted a community health assessment and found that prescription drug abuse and misuse has contributed to the county’s increased suicide rate. The committee has made its primary focus the reduction of drug abuse and misuse.

One box will be located in the lobby of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the other will be in the lobby of the Orange County Courthouse, said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. today at the sheriff’s office will accompany the opening of the drop boxes.

Blackwood said installing the boxes was important to allow residents to conveniently discard their unwanted and unused medication in safe locations in the county.

“Some people go to the police department and others are able to come to the sheriff’s office,” he said.

Ashley Mercer, coordinator of Healthy Carolinians of Orange County, said there is a drop box installed in every police department in Orange County. She said Healthy Carolinians helped implement the installation of prescription drop boxes in the county’s law enforcement buildings to lower prescription drug abuse.

Lt. Josh Mecimore, spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said having the drop boxes available protects the Chapel Hill and Orange County communities from the risks of medication misuse.

“We installed that drop box to provide a consistent and constant location for people to drop off prescription medication, to keep them out of the water supply, out of landfills and out of the hands of people who might abuse them or accidentally overdose or misuse them,” Mecimore said.

Mercer said Healthy Carolinians advertises the boxes and educates residents about what should be dropped in the box and what should not.

She said the first drop box was installed at the Chapel Hill Police Department in the summer of 2013 and was followed that same summer by drop boxes in the police departments of Carrboro and Hillsborough.

Mercer said the boxes are monitored to keep them secure.

“We have accomplished our goal,” she said. “We have all of our law enforcement engaged into the process.”

Mecimore said Chapel Hill Police Department employees clean out the drop box weekly and dispose of the medication to leave room for drop-offs.

“Disposing these properly is important — not only to people, but to the environment,” Mecimore said. “We have an obligation to try to help with that process.”

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