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Leaders have declared the abuse of opioid drugs as emergencies from the national to state levels. No community is immune.

The S.C. Opioid Emergency Response Team says the state’s total number opioid-overdose deaths has increased 47 percent from 508 in 2014 to 748 deaths in 2017. The total number of drug overdose deaths in 2017 was 1,001.

As much as the opioid crisis is born of myriad factors, combating the misuse of prescription drugs by curtailing prescription lengths and drug quantities is a priority in reducing the number of affected people. Using opioid drugs beyond the time for which they are needed for pain relief puts a person at major risk of addiction, and letting such drugs get in the hands of those to whom they are not prescribed puts still more people in danger.

The situation has led to renewed focus on a fact of life in many households: There are vast quantities of prescription medications in medicine cabinets, too many of which are outdated.

Every day, prescription drugs are taken by a friend or family – or stolen in break-ins. Every day, people are using prescription drugs that are found in dumpsters and trash cans.

As much as awareness of keeping medications secure is important, disposing of prescription drugs no longer being used or outdated is more important than ever. But how a person gets rid of the drugs is important.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging residents to drop off unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs at participating locations around the state during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Matthews Police Department are sponsoring drop-off locations from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.

Drop-off locations include:

  • Piggly Wiggly, Edisto Drive, Orangeburg
  • IGA, Branchdale Highway, Eutawville
  • St. Matthews Police Department

Held twice a year, this national event organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration provides a safe, convenient and responsible way for the public to dispose of prescription drugs while also increasing awareness about the risks of unused or expired medicines, including those that remain easily accessible in medicine cabinets.

"While it's easy to overlook, leaving old or unused prescription medicines in your home can be associated with a lot of risks, including being mistaken for other medications and being abused by someone seeking recreational drugs," said Shelly Kelly, DHEC's director of health regulations.

We join DHEC and participating agencies in urging people to participate in the take-back program, as it helps reduce childhood overdoses, restrict household drug theft, limit the accumulation of drugs by the elderly, protect our physical environment, reduce pharmaceutical contamination of fresh water and eliminate waste.

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