In an effort to reduce the risk of misuse or accidental exposure to medications, including opioids and other prescriptions, New Hanover Regional Medical Center is scheduled to have a free medication disposal event Saturday, September 17, from 9 a.m. to noon at the NHRMC Medical Mall, 2243 S. 17th St., beside the main hospital campus.
People who misuse medication often get their first dose by using medications prescribed to other people, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To help stop the cycle in our own community, NHRMC has partnered with law enforcement agencies, Cape Fear Community College, Safe Kids NC, Cape Fear Clinic, Cape Fear Coalition for a Drug Free Tomorrow, and New Hanover Soil & Water Conservation District to collect unneeded and expired medications to be disposed of in a safe, convenient and environmentally sound manner.
All medications brought to the event should be in their original containers to help identify the medication. All personal information is removed. The Wilmington Police Department and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand to accept controlled substances. Medications can be prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins or herbal. Members of NC Harm Reduction Coalition will be present to accept unopened and used needles and syringes. Drive through service is available.
For those who cannot attend Saturday’s event, New Hanover County has two permanent drop boxes for residents to safely dispose of unwanted medications. They are located at the front desk lobby of the New Hanover County Detention Center located, 3950 Juvenile Center Rd. in Castle Hayne, and in Room 201 of the New Hanover County Courthouse, 24 N. 3rd St. in downtown Wilmington. No needles or biohazard materials are accepted in the drop boxes.
Having unnecessary medications in the home can be a hazard. Old medications could be confused with current medications; children could be poisoned by them; and pets could be harmed if they ingest medications dropped and not picked up. In addition, improper disposal of medications can have an adverse effect on the environment.
Proper disposal of unused medications also prevents them from falling into the wrong hands and being distributed illegally or being used by someone who is abusing prescription medication. Misuse of prescription drugs has become a serious problem throughout the region.
“We are very pleased to host these events for the community,” said Iris Baker, outreach coordinator at NHRMC. “We have held these events twice a year since 2009. We recycle the containers, and the medications are weighed and incinerated by the Sheriff's Department. Since 2009, we have collected over 9,000 pounds of medications, thereby protecting our community and our environment.”