In two pill-drop operations in York County, officials have taken more than 300,000 dosages out of the hands of those who could potentially misuse the medications.
Now, residents won't have to wait for special events to safeguard old medications from the wrong hands.
In response to community demands, officials created three permanent drop-off sites for unused pharmaceuticals, Fort Mill Police Chief Jeff Helms said.
The secure boxes will be operational in the lobbies the Rock Hill Police Department, York County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Mill Police Department on Monday, Helms said.
"Having a variety of ways to safely dispose of old and unused medications helps both the community and the environment," Helms said. "Excess medication could increase the risk of theft of these items and of drug abuse."
These permanent locations allow 24-hour access to residents to safely dispose of unwanted or expired medications, he said.
Next to marijuana, the most common drug teens are abusing is prescription medications, said Bob Norwood, president of the York County All on Board Coalition.
Twenty percent of high school students say they have taken prescription drugs without consulting a doctor, according to a recent study.
Among persons 12 and older in York County who used pain relievers non-medically in the past year, Sheriff Bruce Bryant said, more than half reported the source of the drug was a friend or relative.
To combat the recent "considerable increase" in over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse by teens, officials are asking adults to go through their medicine cabinets and dispose of unwanted drugs in these boxes.
Janet Martini, executive director of Keystone Substance Abuse Services, said law enforcement's crackdown on illegal substances has driven people to abuse prescription medication. These drives and permanent boxes will help fight the growing problems with prescription medication.
Officials are asking parents to know what is in their medicine cabinets and even lock pills away from those not prescribed to take the medication.
The drug-drop operations won't end, Bryant said. Since some people aren't comfortable coming into a law enforcement center and others find a grocery store more convenient, All on Board Coalition and area law enforcement will continue holding these drops.
The next Operation Medicine Drop, York County's third, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at various locations across York County.
As part of Awareness to Action Medicine Abuse Week, officials are holding a Medicine Summit at the Baxter Hood Center on Wednesday.
This conference is free and open to the public to learn about the current prescription drug abuse problem and how to address the situation.
Operation Medicine Drop
What: Safely dispose of unwanted or expired medication.
When: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Rock Hill Super Bi-Lo, 286 Cherry Road
Fort Mill Bi-Lo, 1329 W. S.C. 160
York Bi-Lo, 717 E. Liberty St.
Lake Wylie Bi-Lo, 158 S.C. 274
Clover Peoples Pharmacy, 132 S. Main St.
Tega Cay Wal-Mart, 1151 Stonecrest Blvd.
Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit
What: Overview of prescription drug abuse problem and training for parents, school officials, health care professionals and law enforcement on dealing with the problem
When: 8:30 a.m. Wednesday
Where: Baxter Hood Center, 452 S. Anderson Road, Rock Hill
Cost: Free; registration in advance is required; call 803-230-3066 or e-mail email@example.com.