Help fight the opioid epidemic at free medication disposal event

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New Hanover Regional Medical Center will help residents dispose of medications - from herbal supplements to opioids - at a free event next week.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center will help residents dispose of medications – from herbal supplements to opioids – at a free event next week.

WILMINGTON — Nearly 80 percent of heroin users start with prescription pills, according to the National Institute on Drug Addiction. Many of those users get their first pill from a family or friend, or take one from a medicine cabinet.

A significant part of the current opioid epidemic stems from the ‘diversion,’ or misuse of prescription pills (read more about it in our ongoing series). The best way to combat that is to dispose of unused and old medication.

The New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) will hold a free medication disposal event Saturday, April 1, at the Medical Mall at 2243 S. 17th St. (off of Glen Meade Road, between the hospital campus and the Port City Java).

The event, held from 9 a.m. to noon, will have the Wilmington Police Department and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office on hand to deal with controlled substances like prescription opioids. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition will also be present to accept syringes, whether new or used.

According to NHRMC Spokeswoman Claire Parker, medication should be brought in its original container to that medical staff can identity it. All personal information will be removed from the medication, Parker said.

For those who cannot attend next week’s event, or for future disposal, New Hanover County has five permanent drop boxes. These boxes do not accept needles or biohazard material (which may include some vaccines and chemotheraphy drugs).

NHRMC Outpatient Pharmacy – 2131 S. 17th St.

Hours: Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Front Desk – 3950 Juvenile Center Rd., Castle Hayne

Open 24 hours.

New Hanover County Courthouse, Room 201 – 24 N. 3rd St.

Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Walgreens – 4521 Oleander Dr.

Open 24 hours.

Carolina Beach Police Department – 1121 N. Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach

Open 24 hours.

For disposing of needles, the NC Harm Reduction Coalition accepts new and used needles at their Bridges offices, located at 3951 Market St., Building B, from 1 – 5 p.m. on Fridays (for mobile outreach syringe programs in New Hanover, Brunswick and other counties, NC Harm Reduction Coalition has information here).