CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Check your medicine cabinet: If you have medication that has expired or is no longer needed, there's a safe way to dispose of it this Saturday.
Area law enforcement agencies are ready to collect such medication Saturday as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
"This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue," Charleston Police Sgt. Trevor Shelor said. "Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse."
The event is the 13th opportunity from Charleston Police in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft.
"Those medications end up getting accidentally taken or abused and that causes terrible tragedies down the line," Shelor said. "We've had burglaries and car break ins, just to steal the bottles so we need that to stop."
He said prescription drug abuse rates in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.
The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office is hosting two events from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.:
- Magistrates Office – 303 N. Goose Creek Blvd., Goose Creek
- Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office – 223 N. Live Oak Dr., Moncks Corner
Charleston Police will host five locations from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Charleston area:
- Charleston Police Headquarters - 180 Lockwood Drive (in the lobby)
- Citadel Mall - The Southeast Entrance
- James Island Lowe's - 700 Daniel Ellis
- Johns Island Shopping Center by CVS - 3575 Maybank Hwy.
- Daniel Island at Bishop England - Seven Farms at Etiwan Park
The Charleston County Sheriff's Office is hosting four events from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.:
- Charleston County Sheriff’s Office - 3691 Leeds Avenue, North Charleston
- Vincent’s Drug Store - 110 Planted Row Lane, Johns Island
- Ravenel Town Hall - 5962 SC-165, Ravenel
- St. James-Santee Elementary School - 8900 US-17, McClellanville
The Dorchester County Sheriff's Office is hosting three events from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.:
- Dorchester County LEC - 212 Deming Way in Summerville
- Ashley River Fire Department - 8045 Dorchester Road in North Charleston
- Dorchester County Fire Rescue Company 4 - 1475 S.C. Hwy. 61 in Ridgeville
Folly Beach police will host one location from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.:
- Folly Beach Fire Station – 106 W. Cooper Street
Mount Pleasant police will host three locations from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.:
- Walmart – 1481 N. Highway 17, Mt. Pleasant
- Tidwater Pharmacy & Compounding – 421 Johnnie Dodds Blvd, Mt. Pleasant
- Mt. Pleasant Police Department - 100 Ann Edwards Lane, Mt Pleasant
North Charleston police will host one location from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.:
- North Charleston City Hall (1st floor lobby) – 2500 City Hall Lane
Orangeburg authorities are hosting two locations from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.:
- The Orangeburg Sheriff's Office will have a dropbox at the Edisto Drive Piggly Wiggly.
- The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety will have a dropbox at No. 2 Fire Station on Chestnut Street next to Duke's Barbecue.
Officers will collect pills and patches for any unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medication.
No needles or liquid medication can be accepted.
To safely dispose of liquid medication, Shelor says you should put pour the liquid into a Ziplock bag filled with old coffee grounds or cat litter, seal and place in the garbage. Needles should be placed into a heavy-duty plastic laundry detergent bottle, then the bottle should be taped shut and marked "Biohazard" and put out with the garbage, he said.
Last October, Charleston Police collected 250 pounds of old medicines, part of a nationwide collection of 366 tons of prescription drugs at almost 5,200 sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and more than 4,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners, he said.
"At one point a year or two ago, we got 500 pounds, and we're trying to reach that goal again," Shelor said. "We've got additional sites this year, for our collection locations."
Overall, in its 12 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 3,500 tons of pills.
Shelor adds some of the people who benefit the most out of these events are caregivers.
"There are people all over the city who are taking care of their mother-in-law, their elderly father, or just looking after a neighbor," he said. "We have that story every year where somebody will bring us a bag of 20 pounds, or 30 pounds, or a box that they've been holding on to for years and don't know what to do with it."
Once dropped off, all of the medication will be taken to a facility and incinerated.