Western NC’s Operation Medicine Cabinet a Huge Success

May 24, 2010

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Donna Lisenby, Watauga Riverkeeper 828-262-1500 and 704-277-6055 (cell)
Len Hagaman, Watauga County Sheriff 828-264-3761
Kevin Frye, Avery County Sheriff 828-387-5575
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Banner Elk and Boone, NC–Law Enforcement officials and river conservationists collected a large amount of drugs during the High Country’s second prescription drug take back event on Saturday May 22.

The hugely successful event captured approximately 188,563.5 pills, 20.2 gallons of liquid medication, 300 sharps-needles, syringes and lancets, a glucose meter and a bottle of mustache anti-freeze. This year’s event netted four times more drugs than last year, making it one of the most successful prescription drug take back events in the entire state of NC.

More than 38 volunteers and 16 members of law enforcement agencies from the Avery and Watauga County Sheriff’s Department, the State Bureau of Investigation, Blowing Rock, Boone, Beech Mountain, Newland, Banner Elk and Seven Devils Police Departments participated in the joint operation at eight separate locations. Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman said, “Through joint operations with multiple partners in both counties, we made this one of the most successful drug take back events in the state of NC.”

Approximately 154 people turned in their expired, unwanted and unused medications for safe destruction. Drugs collected included hydrocodone, oxycodone, blood thinners, anti-allergens, iodine, insulin, antibiotics, steroids, hormones, anti-depressants, cough syrup, topical creams, over the counter medications, heart, blood pressure, cancer and heartburn medicine and even some pet medications.

Avery County Sherriff Kevin Frye said, “I feel it was a great success and I’m delighted that we were able to keep these drugs off the street and out of our rivers.”

“I am so happy y’all are doing this,” said one participant [names are withheld to protect anonymity]. “It makes so much sense for the health and well being of our kids and the planet – what a wonderful program.”

Other positive responses to the event included “I needed to get rid of the out-of-date drugs because I don’t want prescription drugs around my teenage son” and “Thank you so much for doing this, I didn’t know what to do with all these drugs, I am so grateful that our law enforcement is pro-actively keeping prescription drugs out of teenagers’ hands.”

Volunteer Crystal Simmons said, “For the High Country to create such an event is a real testament to our commitment to a healthier environment and a safer community. I give kudos to all the volunteers that helped make this event happen, and to the people that turned out to responsibly dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.”

Community partners who helped make the 2010 event such a great success included the Avery and Watauga County Sheriff’s Departments, Boone Drug, Watauga County Recycling/Solid Waste Department, Watauga Riverkeeper/Appalachian Voices, Food Lion, NC Cooperative Extension Service, The National Committee for the New River, MPrints, Watauga River Conservation Partners, Precision Printing, the Smoky Mountain Center, Towns of Boone, Blowing Rock and Seven Devils, Boone Police, the State Bureau of Investigation, Blowing Rock Police, MountainKeepers, Seven Devils Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newland Police, Carolina BBQ, Avery County Schools, Banner Elk Police, Safekids-Watauga County, Beech Mountain Police, Watauga Medics, Foscoe Fire Department, Avery A & H Fair, CVS, Grandfather Highland Games, Watauga/Avery Drug Treatment Court, Blowing Rock Rotary and Appalachian State University. The event was made possible in part by a grant from the Helen. M. Clabough Charitable Foundation.


Photos available at https://appvoices.org/images/omc2010/

Photo cutlines:
Avery County OMC May 2010.jpg: Drugs collected in Avery County at Operation Medicine Cabinet on May 22, 2010

Watauga County OMC May 2010.jpg: Drugs collected in Watauga County at Operation Medicine Cabinet on May 22, 2010