Preventing the Crisis
The heroin and opioid crisis started with the misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers. To obtain these drugs during the initial phases of misuse, a user often needs to search no further than the home medicine cabinet or a pill bottle in the possession of friends or family. South Carolina is among the States which prescribe the most painkillers, on average between 96 and 143 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people. In many other states, that rate is much lower, between 52 and 71 prescriptions per 100 people. For the year ended June 30, 2014, total opioid pill distribution for South Carolina was 272,818,351. That is 56 tablets for every adult and child living in South Carolina in 2014. These numbers speak to a macro-reality that the opioid supply is abundant in South Carolina. The micro-reality is that these drugs may very well be sitting, unused and available for misuse, in each of our medicine cabinets.
Why is Take Back Day So Important?
DEA sponsors a biannual National Take Back Day across the country in partnership with state and local law enforcement. The event is usually held on a Saturday in October and in April each year. This program offers the community an opportunity to turn in unused and unwanted prescription drugs with no questions asked. DEA then destroys the drugs.
Local departments in South Carolina, such as Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, MUSC’s Public Safety Center, and Mount Pleasant Police Department, are leading the effort, as well, by implementing permanent Take Back programs. These departments are opening Take Back sites available 365 days per year, 7 days per week, 24 hours per day. Similarly, several local and national pharmacies, like Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, also offer Take Back options.