Disposal boxes in Aiken County have become an effective resource in removing old or unused prescription drugs from households amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Public resources to safely dispose prescription drugs have had to adjust as attempts to limit the spread of COVID-19 continues to cancel public events.
In years past, Aiken County participated in national drug take back days that took place in various locations twice a year, once in April and again in October.
However, the onset of COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of the take back days and officials at the Aiken Center Substance Use Services aren’t certain when the public event will return.
“We suspect it may be back on track in October but we’re not sure,” said Tonya Avery, prevention services coordinator with the Aiken Center. “We’re thankful there’s still other ways people can dispose of this medication.”
In early March, the Aiken Center Substance Use Services partnered with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office to open its first drop-off box at the department’s lobby at 420 Hampton Ave. N.E. in Aiken.
In June the Center would partner with the North Augusta Department of Public Safety to open another box in NADPS’ lobby located at 444 East Buena Vista Ave. in North Augusta.
Since starting in March, both boxes have yielded a total of total of approximately 160 prescription drugs, Stephen Ryan with the Aiken Center said.
An increase in opioid-related overdoses throughout the coronavirus pandemic has been a concern for the Aiken County area.
The area saw its highest suspected overdose responses of opioid-related overdoses during the months of April and May with 40 and 44 suspected overdoses respectively.
Both Avery and Ryan agree the disposal boxes are playing a big part in the Center’s overall goal to get potentially dangerous drugs out of the home.
“It’s available in their home for youth to get access to,” Avery said. “Most kids that have tried they’ve got it from home or from a friend. If we get that out of the home that’s one less place they can obtain the opioids.”
The Aiken Center also hopes to encourage the public to dispose of prescription drugs safely.
Ryan says a common issue is when people dispose of their unused prescription drugs by flushing them down the toilet.
“Water treatment plants will tell you they do not have the ability to filter out all of this stuff,” Ryan said. “When you talk about water purification it gets to be an issue.”
The Aiken Center encourages the public to either use the disposal boxes or use a Deterra drug deactivation pouch to safely dispose of prescription drugs.
This year, the Aiken Center has distributed 1,200 pouches and plans to distribute more at their location on 1105 Gregg Highway in Aiken.
As the boxes gain more awareness, the Aiken Center hopes the public will take advantage of the fairly new resource.
“As more people become more aware of North Augusta’s box I foresee that jumping up,” Ryan said. “I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll see 400 plus pounds by January, which is a lot of medication.”
Disposal boxes accept Schedule II-V and non-controlled substance prescriptions, vitamins, prescription ointments, pet medications, prescription patches and over-the-counter medications.
Needles, inhalers, aerosol cans, thermometers, lotions, liquids and hydrogen peroxide will not be accepted.