Richmond County drug vault overflowing with hundreds of pounds of collected opioids

Monday, Sept. 9, 2019
News 12 First at 5

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Two-hundred and sixty-five pounds. That's what the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and Doctor's Hospital collected at their "Crush the Crisis" event, shedding light on the issue of opioid addiction.

"Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, all different milligrams," Narcotics Sgt. Albert Brabazon said. "Bottles and bottles of them that they just never took."

Investigators say nearly 300 pounds of pills is nothing compared to previous take-back events where they've gotten nearly 900 pounds of pills.

Brabazon says Richmond County averages 500 pounds of pills a month.

"Your children, your grandchildren are going into these cabinets and taking the drugs out," Brabazon said.

In Georgia, law enforcement can only legally destroy 150 pounds a month, so investigators are left with a stockpile growing into mountains of pills.

"We can't maintain or keep up with it," Brabazon said. "We are saturated with the stuff that's out there and doctors are writing these prescriptions and trying to manage it, but there's so much out there."

The boxes are narcotics that people willingly turned in, but it's only about 5 percent of what's out there.

"How can we make pain better or give patients less pain?" Mark Newton, Emergency Physician at Doctor's Hospital said. "A lot of it was well-intentioned. Unfortunately, there's this horrible side effect of addiction and overdose -- often overdose deaths."

Dr. Mark Newton sees opioid-related overdoses nearly every day.

"There's way too many families who find out a loved one has died with an addiction that, often times, the patient or the individual hates and they want to deal with, but these are powerful medicines," Newton said.

If you want to drop off any of your unused or unwanted medication, there are two drop boxes in Augusta.

-Sheriff's Office Headquarters: 400 Walton Way
-Department of Health: 950 Laney Walker Boulevard

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