Safer Kids, Safer Streets: Pill Collection Events Remove Thousands of Medications from Homes

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Unloading pill boxes, old bottles and medicine cabinets in North Carolina recently made thousands of children safer, and the streets a less likely place for illegal drug traffic.

News reports said that more than 60,000 medication dosages were collected in Macon County, North Carolina, as representatives from law enforcement agencies and children’s coalitions looked on. Called Operation Medicine Drop, the unused or out-of-date medicines were then transported to a state office to be destroyed.

In an effort that is being repeated across the nation, sheriff’s office staff distributed pill drop-off points across town and then collected and bagged the pills and medicines. Police departments from nearby cities were also involved. They worked in collaboration with Safe Kids North Carolina, an affiliate of Safe Kids Worldwide, whose mission is to help prevent injuries and accidental deaths for children under the age of 14.

Accessing medications at home is a major cause of illness and death for children each year, with Safe Kids North Carolina representatives saying that 200 children lose their lives in the state annually to accidental poisoning, and 45,000 will need medical treatment for poison-related injuries.

Efforts like Operation Medicine Drop, and similar efforts called Operation Pill Crusher, held across the state, have helped representatives from the U.S. drug Enforcement Administration and various children’s groups and poison-control initiatives to collect and get rid of millions of pills and medicines statewide – including prescription painkillers, stimulants and dangerous cough or cold medications.

In the U.S., deaths related to overdosing on drugs are a top cause of accidental death, taking second ranking behind only accidental death in a vehicle. The pill drop efforts are an easy way for families to clean out their pill collections, but they also help prevent dangerous street-level drug activity and help keep children from being injured or developing drug addictions themselves.

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