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Operation Medicine Cabinet Saturday, Locations in Foscoe Fire and at Blowing Rock, Boone Food Lions

drugsMay 2, 2013. It is time again for Watauga County citizens to do some drugs with law enforcement officers and community partners. Do you have outdated or unused prescription drugs, over the counter medications, syringes or other medical supplies?

Come drop them off at the sponsored take-back centers on Saturday May 4, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Take-back locations will be available at the Foscoe Fire Department and the three Food Lion stores in Watauga County: the Highway 321 store in Boone, the Highway 421 Deep Gap store, and the Blowing Rock store. It is an amnesty day, so no questions will be asked. 

Three and half years ago, on Oct. 3, 2009, a broad coalition of community partners came together to create the first ever prescription drug take-back day in the High Country. Since that first event a total of seven “Operation Medicine Cabinet” events have been held every May and October as part of the Watauga County household hazardous waste day.  As you can see from the number of pills collected since the event began, we do a lot of drugs here in the High Country. 


Pills collected

October 2009


May 2010


October 2010


May 2011


October 2011


May 2012


October 2012




Thanks to broad support by community members across the region, the High Country has collected a total of 1, 002, 794 pills since 2009.  That makes our county, one of the best in the state. On a per capita basis, our community has repeatedly outperformed Raleigh, Charlotte and Asheville even though they are much larger cities. 

In 2010, our local Operation Medicine Cabinet was recognized as a model program and adopted by other community groups across North Carolina. In 2011, more than forty drug take back events were held across the state. The High Country group wants to continue leading the state by hosting another highly successful haul of dangerous prescription drugs.

The disposal of prescription drugs has long been a dilemma, and many medicine cabinets contain unused or outdated medications. Among teenagers, the fastest growing illegal drug use is the abuse of prescription drugs. The most common method of obtaining prescription drugs is by raiding the medicine cabinet of a friend or family, then consuming the pills or selling them.

“From a law enforcement perspective, one of our most important jobs is to work diligently and proactively to prevent drug abuse,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len D. Hagaman. “By hosting an amnesty day that allows the public to turn in any kind of unused or unwanted medications, hopefully, we will keep those drugs off the street and out of the hands of children.”

Another problem with outdated or unused prescription drugs is that people dispose of them improperly by flushing them down the toilet.   If their home is connected to a local waste water treatment facility, then the drugs wind up in either the Watauga River or New River where they can negatively affect  aquatic organisms.  If the homes have septic tanks, the drugs leach into the soils and contaminate groundwater that can be taken up by well pumps.

“A recent investigation by the Associated Press found a whole host of pharmaceuticals-including antibiotics, pain medication, anti-depressants, sex hormones, heart and blood pressure medicine-in the drinking water  of more than 40 million Americans,” said Donna Lisenby, Watauga Riverkeeper. 

“It has been very rewarding to see how enthusiastically people have united to support Operation Medicine Cabinet,” said Dick and Joan Hearn of the Watauga River Partners. “We have over 30 community partners, including Helen M. Clabough Charitable Foundation, MountainKeepers, the towns and police departments of Beech Mountain, Boone, Blowing Rock and Seven Devils, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Safe Kids North Carolina, Boone Drug, Watauga County Recycling/Solid Waste Department, Watauga Riverkeeper/Western North Carolina Alliance, Food Lion, Appalachian Voices, Precision Printing, Foscoe and Beaverdam Fire Departments, the Smoky Mountain Center and Appalachian State University just to name a few,” they continued.

To find out more about the event please see the attached flyer or contact the individuals above.