Horry County expands drug drop-off program to curb heroin problem

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A program that’s supposed to keep the wrong people from getting prescription drugs will expand in Horry County.

Police use drop-off boxes as a safe dumping place for expired or unused prescription medicines, and police will have them destroyed. Over the course of 2016, the box located inside the Myrtle Beach Police department collected nearly 500 pounds of drugs.

Police say the drop-off box program is a vital component in fighting the heroin epidemic throughout the county.

“It’s almost like he sniffed them out,” says Janice Collier. Colliers is describing the day her son found her prescription for Oxycodone.

“There were seven or nine in the bottle and he probably took them all at once because that’s what addicts will do,” describes Collier.

Collier says she was aware of her son’s addiction, and tried to hide her medicine.

“I thought I hid them very, very well. I hid them inside a tarp, inside a cabinet on the back porch, and my son found them,” she says.

For Collier’s son, the prescription pills were the first step into his heroin use. Police say that’s the case for many addicts, and in order to tackle the heroin epidemic, they’re putting the drop-off boxes for old prescription drugs all over the county.

“Once a month, we empty those out and we weigh them and then we send them to be destroyed and they’re incinerated and destroyed so they’ll never hit the streets again,” explains Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall.

Myrtle Beach was one of the first to utilize the boxes, but this week, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office received two more to put in different locations.

“They’ll be bolted down,” explains Sgt. Timmy Tyner with the sheriff’s office. “They’ll be behind a lock and key. We’ll have policies and procedures that way when they’re emptied, it’s going to be recorded when it’s taken in. That way, the medication can’t fall into the wrong hands.”

Collier says looking back, if this box would’ve shortened the time of recovery for her son, she would’ve done things differently.

“Hindsight, yes, I probably would’ve because then he wouldn’t have gotten a hold of them,” Collier admits.

Chief Gall says the box inside the police department collects about 80 pounds of prescription drugs each month. The two new drug drop-off boxes for the sheriff’s office will be placed inside the detention center and the Horry County Complex in Conway.

Horry County’s heroin coalition is working to make sure all of the departments have the boxes soon.