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Clarendon County Sheriff Tim Baxley and Clarendon Behavioral Health Services Executive Director Ann Kirven had much to celebrate in eearly November.
The pair were the recipients of a grant from the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services that will provide a permanent Prescription Drop Box for the disposal of unused prescription medication that Kirven said could otherwise lead to abuse and addiction.
“The grant - an Echo Grant through DAODAS - actually came through for Clarendon Behavioral Health Services,” Kirven said. “We discussed
it with Sheriff Baxley and he allowed us to place the box here at the Sheriff’s Office. We think it’s a good place for it, because it’s secure and under lock and key.”
Kirven said that similar grants have been granted in larger, more urban areas of the state, like Greenville and Charleston.
“But they opened it up to smaller places, and we really jumped at the opportunity,” Kirven said.
Clarendon Behavioral Health has been at the fore- front, she noted, for help-
ing Clarendon residents rid themselves and their homes of unused prescription medications, including opioids and other mood- and mind- altering drugs that could fall into the hands of children or young adults.
“We usually hold two prescription take-back campaigns each year,” said Kirven. “It gets to be a lot of work, because we have to have a pharmacist on hand and we have to get several deputies to come out. ese take-back campaigns do a good job of getting rid of these unused drugs, but they’re a lot of work.”
With the Prescription Drop Box, residents are free to drop off medications - including unwanted over-the-counter pills - from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at the Sheriff’s Office, 217 Commerce St. in Manning.
“They may dispose of any kind of drugs, but there are no syringes and no liquids allowed,” said Kirven. Baxley said that pills are dumped into the box from their original bottles, which are then placed in a receptacle next to the Prescription Drop Box.
Once full, the box’s con- tents are emptied and taken to an undisclosed location for incineration, Baxley said.
“We are appreciative of our partner in disposing of the drugs, but want to have that person remain anonymous for security purposes,” Baxley said.
Baxley noted that he had separately looked at such a drop box for his office shortly after being sworn-in earlier this year.
“CVS was doing a grant for them,” he said. “I got into checking into that, and then (Clarendon Behavioral Health Prevention Specialist) Caroline (Grant) contacted me in the midst of all of that.”
Grant told Baxley that the county had received grant funding for the very thing the sheriff was seeking.
“I was completely thrilled to join with them,” Baxley said. “I jumped at the opportunity. It was a no-brainer.”
Baxley said his office is the “proper place to put it.”
“We can escort them to be incinerated; we are a secure facility,” he said. “We have enough problems with prescription drugs today being in the wrong hands, so this is a good place for it.”
Baxley said he hopes the box will help curb property crime in the county.
“A lot of our crimes are because people want to get their hands on drugs,” he said. “They steal to support their habits.”
Third Circuit Court Drug Court Judge Amy Land agreed. She said she is also excited for the opportunity that the Prescription Drop Box represents.
“As a Drug Court judge, the biggest problem I see is opiates,” she said. “Addiction does not discriminate. It can be your child, your neighbor, your brother, your friends. When you finish a prescription and you have the remainder, that’s easy access to those drugs for all those people in that home.”
Land said the box represents “a great benefit, so that we can get these drugs off the street and out of the medicine cabinets so they’re not readily available if they are not needed.”
Baxley said the box is especially helpful for families of terminally ill loved ones.
“When you have these folks sent home with hospice or who have terminal illnesses, they’re usually issued a lot of painkillers before they pass away,” said Baxley. “After that person passes away, and there’s all these drugs le over. Now, there may not be someone in that home with a mind to use those leftovers. But they might be of a mind to try and sell them. That’s why it’s so important for us to get them back here, have them in the box and then dispose of them properly and legally.”
Kirven said that opioid addiction is on the rise in Clarendon County. She said that the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported that Narcan - a drug used to counteract overdoses - was used 33 times in 2016 and 18 times in the first half of 2017 alone.
Baxley said that his deputies are also carrying two doses of Narcan on their person at all times.
“We just went through the training with it, me included,” said Baxley. “We haven’t used it yet, but we’re ready.”
Baxley said the training was mostly to help fellow deputies should they come in contact with strong narcotics.
“We have a nasal injector,” he said. “You’ve got these strong drugs out there on the street. If we were to have an exposure, I want my deputies to be able to protect my other deputies. So, we’ve not only trained for the public’s sake, but for the officer’s sake as well.”
Kirven said she hopes the county will be able to add another box in the eastern portion of the county.
“Turbeville really wants one,” she said. “So, we’re hopeful that the opportunity will come around for that.”