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ALPHA Center, partners combat opioid epidemic

Posted: October 5, 2017 5:15 p.m.
Updated: October 6, 2017 1:00 a.m.

The ALPHA Center is working with local law enforcement agencies to respond to the national opioid epidemic. Opioids are a category of substances that includes heroin, morphine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl.

“While we all recognize heroin as a dangerous illegal drug, others are seen as something that should be safe and beneficial to us a prescription,” ALPHA Center staff said in a recent press release. “These prescription drugs can be found in almost every household. Though they may have medicinal benefits, that does not eliminate the fact that there is still the possibility of negative side effects, addition, overdose or death.”

In addition to be available for people seeking treatment for substance misuse, the ALPHA Center has teamed up with the Bethune, Camden and Elgin police departments and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office to place permanent drop boxes at each law enforcement agency in which people can safely dispose of unused or expired prescriptions. The agencies are located at:

• Bethune Police Department -- 101 Elm St., Bethune

• Camden Police Department -- 816 West DeKalb St., Camden

• Elgin Police Department -- 2469 Main St., Elgin

• Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office -- 821 Ridgeway Road, Lugoff

A Communities That Care survey administered in South Carolina high schools during 2016 showed that 26 percent of students reported they obtained prescription drugs by taking them from a family member without asking. Almost 27 percent reported their peers would think that their use of prescription drugs without a prescription was not wrong at all or only a little bit wrong.

According to the ALPHA Center, adults in Kershaw County were surveyed earlier this year. Of those who completed the survey, 52 percent reported it was easy or somewhat easy to get prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription; 20 percent reported they obtained prescription drugs from a friend or relative for free.

Overall, 70 percent of people 12 and older who abuse prescription drugs get them family or friends, according to the ALPHA Center.

“These findings show how easy access contributes to the misuse of these substances. Proper disposal is an easy way to make these prescription drugs less readily available,” ALPHA Center staff said.

The center suggested that those people wishing to place unused/expired prescriptions in the drop boxes scratch off all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. Staff also said prescriptions, loose pills and patches should be placed in a disposable bag, if possible. People should not place medical equipment or accessories -- needles, syringes, Epi-pens, inhalers -- or any liquid materials in the drop boxes.

Along with opioids, other prescription drugs can be misused and should be treated the same way for disposal.

“Many young people, as well as adults, find prescription drugs to be a ‘safe’ way to get high or self-medicate,” ALPHA Center staff said. “The easy access to prescription drugs and the perception that it’s OK or safe has led to a large problem.

“Children, especially, need to hear the truth about how these substances can affect them.”

The ALHPA Center also operates in Chesterfield and Lee counties and has set up drop boxes in Bishopville and Chesterfield in addition to the ones in Kershaw County.

For more information call the Camden office at (803) 432-6902.


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