EARLY CO., GA (WALB) - As prescription drug abuse and addiction continues to rise nationwide, leaders in Early County are trying to stay ahead of the problem.
Folks at Family Connection donated a drug incinerator to the Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. The hope is to encourage people to drop off their prescription drugs at the office before the drugs get in the wrong hands.
It's almost empty now, but the drop box has seen dozens of pounds of prescription drugs in the past few years.
"It would range from five pounds in a month to sometimes 50 pounds in a month," said Early County Sheriff's Office Chief Investigator Will Caudill.
Caudill said since a drop-off program was created back in 2013, it's been a success.
"I've been pleasantly surprised by a community our size for the amount that we have taken in," said Caudill.
Folks have been able to drop off their unwanted drugs at the Courthouse or jail in these boxes. Then, the Drug Enforcement Agency would pick up the drugs monthly and incinerate them.
"Overtime that process has kind of changed and it led to a build up of the medicines that we would get," said Caudill.
Since the DEA stopped collecting the drugs, the Sheriff's Office has had to store them on their own.
"Sometimes space got to be a problem to have them safely stored," explained Caudill.
The money for the drug incinerator came from a grant Family Connections of Early County from SAMSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
"Our goal in Early County is to educate people on proper storage, safe storage and proper disposal," said executive director of Family Connections Gwen Houston.
Now officials at the Sheriffs Office will be able to burn the drugs in the drop boxes.
Houston said she wants to help make Early County a drug free community.
"What has happened is that people aren't properly storing their drugs. Then other people us them, abuse them and it leads to addiction," said Houston.
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