Drop boxes provide safe disposal of prescription drugs

One way to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse prevention is getting rid of the drugs.

One way to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse prevention is getting rid of the drugs. The Ernest Kennedy Center, an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility in Berkeley County, helps make that happen by partnering with local law enforcement to provide drop boxes for drug disposal.

The drug drop boxes are available to anyone who wants to dispose of prescription drugs safely. “It’s a free, public service,” The Kennedy Center’s ECHO County Coordinator Sarah Halse said.

Drug disposal sites in Berkeley County are:

• Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, 223 North Live Oak Dr., Moncks Corner, S.C. 29461

• Goose Creek Police Department, 519 North Goose Creek Blvd., Goose Creek, S.C. 29445

• Moncks Corner Police Department, 118 Carolina Ave., Moncks Corner, S.C. 29461

• Walgreens drug store, 1120 North Main St., Summerville, S.C. 29483

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem across America and crosses all socioeconomic boundaries, Halse said.

“It can happen to anyone at any time. We’re in the midst of an opioid crisis and it affects people of all backgrounds. It can be someone who’s had surgery and they have a legitimate prescription. Maybe recovery takes a little longer, and the prescription is refilled and more medication is required for the pain. It can start like that,” she said.

According to data provided by the Kennedy Center and sourced from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, in one year 10,521,904 opioid pills were dispensed in Berkeley County.

The state Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services reports that in 2015, Narcan, an emergency antidote to opioid overdose, was administered to 39 patients in Berkeley County. In 2016, the number jumped to 229.

The federally-funded drop box program is the result of a five-year ECHO (Empowering Communities for Healthy Outcomes) grant now in its third year in Berkeley County. The grant is funded through the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through a cooperative agreement with the South Carolina Governor’s Office. ECHO is administered by the S.C. (DAODAS).

The ECHO subcommittee SPARx (Stop Prescription Drug Abuse), works with the Berkeley County Prevention Board to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse through education, information, awareness and community outreach.

“The drug drop boxes provide our citizens a secure location to dispose of unused prescription drugs in a safe manner,” Goose Creek Police Capt. David Soderberg, a SPARx committee member, said.

“This way, the prescription drugs do not get into the hands of others who may otherwise illegally sell or ingest the prescription. It also insures the prescription drug is disposed of properly without being flushed into our water systems or discarded, unprotected in the trash.”

The Kennedy Center, a private, not-for-profit agency, provides prevention, education and treatment services to Berkeley County residents. The location in Goose Creek serves adolescents prevention; the one in Moncks Corner is for adult patients. For more information about the drug drop boxes or services at the Kennedy Center, visit www.ekcenter.org.