The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has provided an alternative for disposing of unused or expired prescription drugs.
A drop box that resembles a metal mailbox has been placed in the sheriff’s office’s lobby at 400 Walton Way so residents can get rid of the drugs without the fear of their reaching the streets, in the hands of children, or damaging sewers or septic systems.
“The entire point of the operation is to have a safe way for people to dispose of drugs,” Sgt. Allan Rollins said. “Quite often, people call us and ask what to do with them. Now we have a drop box.”
The box, provided free by National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, was set up Friday afternoon. It will be available during business hours. The box will be emptied by officers each day and the drugs properly disposed of.
In addition to pills, police will accept patches, vials and other prescription medical items in their original packaging. They ask that people refrain from dropping syringes or other items that could prove dangerous.
“If it’s safe enough to drop, we’ll take it,” Rollins said.
Richmond County deputies have already been collecting drugs through the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Take-Back Initiative.
As part of the initiative, law enforcement agencies around the country set up collection sites for several hours during several take-back days each year to allow residents to drop off drugs. The drop box, however, will be available every day.
Rollins said the sheriff’s office will continue to take part in the Take-Back Initiative. The most recent initiative was held Saturday in Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties
According to the drug diversion association, prescription drugs have become the No. 1 substance of abuse for 12-to 17-year-olds.
Many of the drugs are obtained from the medicine cabinets of parents, grandparents and friends without their knowledge.
Investigators said prescription drug abuse has been growing in Richmond County. They hope the new option can help bring down those numbers.
“All they have to do is drop it and leave,” Rollins said. “There are no reports to fill out. We’ll take care of everything.”