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Drug Enforcement Administration raises awareness for prescription drug misuse

A prescription drug dropbox is pictured on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.

The Chapel HillPolice Department set up a drop-off site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 29. 

The drop-off site and an information desk were located at Wegmans Food Market on Fordham Boulevard. The site aimed to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug misuse. 

Residents came to safely discard their unused, expired or unwanted prescriptions so they could be properly disposed of by the Town of Chapel Hill.

“You bring it and drop it right into that trash can that says 'operation medicine drop',” Alexandria Rudd, a Chapel Hill Police Department officer who volunteered to oversee the site, said on Oct. 29 at the Wegmans location. 

She said she enjoyed connecting with people who visited the site and answering their questions about prescription safety. 

The Town and County also have year-round prescription drug drop-off sites at pharmacies and Town offices across Chapel Hill and Carrboro and on the third floor of UNC Student Stores. 

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has an online prescription drug drop-off locator that is available year-round to help encourage safe and convenient prescription drug disposal. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was founded by the DEA as a way to encourage the safe use of prescription drugs and prevention of medicine misuse. 

The Town partners with the Police Department to spread awareness about proper drug disposal, Alex Carrasquillo, a community safety public information officer for Chapel Hill Police and Fire departments, said. 

“Local governments and local health departments, police departments and fire departments all join together to set up locations where people can drop off expired, unused, or just unwanted prescription drugs of all kinds so that they don’t end up in the wrong hands,” he said. 

Carrasquillo said some of the most dangerous threats of not disposing of medications include misuse by children or people with drug addictions. He added that many people also flush their old pills, which can pollute  water systems. 

"Though it might not seem like a big deal, medications lying around in a home can lead down a tragic path of addiction or unintentional poisoning," Kristen Prelipp, public information officer of the Orange County Health Department, said. 

She said people should never assume medications at home will not fall into someone else's hands. People should also realize that even after the disposal of medications in the trash, others can still dig through bins and find them, she said.

“We’re glad that this national organization makes it a day and brings some attention and awareness to it, but for us, this is something that’s every single day,” Prelipp said.

Both Carrasquillo and Prelipp noted that the Town always has resources available to those who need them and that there are a variety of ways people can dispose of medications around Orange County. 

“What some people may not know — and I’m always excited to highlight this — is that people can bring their unwanted prescription medications to the lobby of the Police Department any time during business hours,” Carrasquillo said. 

The department’s hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is also a drop-off box available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m in the UNC Hospitals Outpatient Pharmacy on the third floor of the Ambulatory Care Center.


@DTHCityState | 

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