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North Carolina holds program to fight prescription drug abuse

For one week last month North Carolina residents participated in "Operation Medicine Drop." People were asked to clean out their medicine cabinets and bring old prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications to state-approved collection sites.

The aim of the program was to keep these drugs out of the hands of anyone who would abuse them. Many people don't realize that they could be charged with drug possession if they are in possession of certain medications which weren't prescribed to them. Powerful pain medications such as Oxycontin are highly regulated because of their high potential for abuse.

Operation Medicine Drop was sponsored by a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations, and there were more than 200 drug take-back events across the state. North Carolina's Attorney General announced that the week-long program was a big success.

The program allowed the state to collect more than 2.2 million doses of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Between 18-20 percent of the collected drugs were controlled substances such as Hydrocodone.

Many controlled substances have a high potential for abuse, which is why access to them is limited. As we previously mentioned, people who illegally obtain and abuse these drugs can be charged with drug possession. Additionally, a driver can be charged with DUI in certain cases of controlled substance abuse.

So what happens to the 2.2 million doses of donated meds? They will be incinerated at New Hanover County's Waste-to-Energy Conversion facility.

Because of Operation Medicine Drop there will be fewer medications in the wrong hands and hopefully fewer criminal charges for North Carolina residents.

Source: WNCT News online, "2.2 million drug doses collected in Operation Medicine Drop," 04 April 2011

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