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Operation Medicine Drop a community partnership

During a join press conference Friday, UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis says the school system will do its part in educating and creating awareness on the proper use, the dangers of misuse and the proper disposal of unused prescription medication.

The welfare of students goes beyond providing a good education. Union County Public Schools officials have partnered with law enforcement, healthcare and community agencies in Operation Medicine Drop, a program designed to help keep unused medications out of the hands of children.
   
"The misuse of prescription drugs is a serious matter with potentially life threatening consequences,” said UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis. “UCPS will take an aggressive approach to make sure that students are not misusing or distributing these drugs at school. In order to do this, we need the cooperation of students, teachers, parents, and the law enforcement community.”
   
During a Friday (Sept. 25, 2009) joint press conference with school and health care officials, Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said that one in five teenagers has abused prescription medication in order to either get high or self medicate.
   
“It has long been acknowledged that the home medicine cabinet is a ready source for drugs of abuse, even more so than street-level drug dealers,” Cathey said.
   
A medicine cabinet filled with old prescription medication and outdated over-the-counter medicine is an invitation to accidental poisoning or overdose.
   
“Operation Medicine Drop is a nationally recognized effort designed to collect old household medications and allow for their safe and legal disposal,” said Union County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ben Bailey. “Under this program, citizens may drop off their old and unused prescriptions at designated points in Union County on Saturday, Oct. 3.”
   
The idea to bring Operation Medicine Drop to Union County originated with Denise Cavoly, the UCPS Safe and Drug-Free coordinator, after she saw a similar program in a neighboring county.
   
“Prescription drug-use rates among 12- and 13-year-olds are on the rise,” Cavoly said. “Right now, the use of marijuana and prescription drugs by teenagers is about the same, second only to alcohol; but according to predictions by state and national authorities, in the not-to-distant future, kids will be using prescription drugs more than marijuana because it’s accessible in homes.”  
   
The types of prescription drugs that are misused include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, narcotic painkillers and medicine used for ADHD such as Ritalin.
   
“Through Operation Medicine Drop, we can prevent accidental poisoning of children of all ages,” said Jennifer Cooke, Carolina Medical Center’s Safe Communities Coordinator. “There is also the green aspect of destroying the medication. You don’t want to flush them down the toilet. You want it to be done in a safe and effective manner that doesn’t get it back into circulation in our water system.”
   
Cathey said that Operation Medicine Drop is a way for law enforcement to give the public a safe way to handle the disposal of outdated prescription medications.
   
The Union County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of other local law enforcement agencies will collect out-of-date prescription drugs from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 for destruction. The Medicine Drop locations will be at: 
     
Wal-Mart, 2406 W. Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe; Wal-Mart Supercenter, at 2101 Younts Road, Indian Trail; Waxhaw Police Department, 703 W. South Main St., Suite E; Waxhaw (next to Captain’s Galley); and Food Lion, 221 W. Highway 74, Wingate.   
   
Operation Medicine Drop is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, NC State Bureau of Investigation, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe Police Department, Union County Public Schools, Carolinas Medical Center-Union, Union County Safe Kids/Safe Communities, Southeast Pain Care-Union and Behavioral Health Center First Step in partnership with the Waxhaw Police Department, Wingate Police Department, Marshville Police Department, Stallings Police Department, Food Lion, Wal-Mart, United Way of the Central Carolinas (Latino Outreach Project), American Red Cross and the Union County Safe and Drug Free Community Partnership.
   
For more information about Operation Medicine Drop, call the 704-283-3765.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Sep 30, 2009 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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