National Prescription Drug Take Back Day even more necessary during pandemic

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 7:15 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Those unused prescription drugs sitting in your medicine cabinet could be deadly in the wrong hands. You can safely and responsibly dispose of them this weekend during the latest National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which is Saturday, Oct. 24.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, hospitals and several other organizations are partnering with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide an easy drop-off location for anyone wanting to take part.

WIS-TV reached out to Sara Goldsby, the director of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS). The agency saw a 30% rise in calls between March and June from families seeking help for loved ones suffering from substance abuse.

It’s an issue Goldsby says has been in the making over the last several decades as Americans began to misuse prescription meds. She also says this can often transition to the use of illegal opioids. Indicators of progress in the matter are determined by death rates, and COVID-19 has caused some setbacks.

“In 2019, we were finally starting to see very much a slowdown of deaths attributed to opioid overdose and unfortunately, I think in the midst of this pandemic with COVID-19, we’ve seen a lot more isolation and increased use of opioids and we’ve seen an elevated number of opioid overdoses in our state since March,” said Goldsby.

The disconnection from family and friends among other COVID-19 related stressors can sometimes create the perfect storm of emotions that often lead to substance abuse.

Goldsby offers some of the signs that can help determine if a loved one may need help, saying, “It’s really about seeing drinking earlier in the day, drinking an increased amount, using your medications or running out of your medications earlier, feeling an increased need for more medications and then just altered mood, altered mental status and we know that adolescents and kids are initiating use of drugs with the prescriptions that they find in the home and in the medicine cabinet.”

Last year, almost 23,000 pounds of prescriptions drugs were collected in South Carolina through the National Prescription Drug Take Back program.

Saturday’s event is happening from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. For a full list of locations, click here.

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