Community Level Prevention

The Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs

In the spring of 2015, Burke Recovery received funding through SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework – Partnership for Success grant for the prevention of youth and young adult prescription medication abuse and misuse. The Partnership for Success program has allowed Burke Recovery staff to be trained on community level prevention. Coordinated by Burke Recovery staff, the RxEAP task force was created in the summer of 2015.

RxEAP is an acronym for Prescription Education Awareness Prevention. Formed by passionate members of our BSAN coalition, the RxEAP Task Force is analyzing the problem of the non-medical use of prescription drugs, and strategically taking action to reduce access to prescription medication, educating the public and youth on the dangers of prescription medication misuse and abuse, and informing citizens on how they can help stop the problem.

RxEAP Task Force members include: physicians from Carolinas HealthCare System-Blue Ridge, Burke County Sheriff’s Office Narcotic Task Force Members as well as Sheriff Steve Whisenant, pharmacists from Table Rock Pharmacy and Jay’s Pharmacy, pharmacy students, the Burke County Health Department, the Burke County Department Social Service, clergy, non-profit agency members, behavioral health practitioners, and others.

RxEAP Task Force Accomplishments (August 2015 – Present):

Community Awareness:

  • Running 6 Billboards for the Lock Your Meds in May – December, 2016, avg. 134,000 views/week
  • Distributed over 2500 rack cards with Lock Your Meds message to 10  pharmacies for pharmacists to give with prescriptions.
  • Created and ran PSAs on Compass Cable and The Big Dawg Radio for drug drop box awareness.
  • Ran a 3-day newspaper campaign on the dangers of NMUPD.
  • Meetings with Ministerial Association- providing Rx safety info cards in church bulletins
  • Lock Your Meds Posters in majority of Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge practices.
  • Project Lazarus poster contest had 55 student entries from Burke County. Winning poster made into a billboard.
  • Demonstrated and distributed 125 medication lock boxes to at risk homes (where controlled substance prescriptions and  children are present). Lock boxes used as educational tool for parents.
  • Held Operation Medicine Drop in partnership with the Burke County Health Department, Safe Kids NC, and Burke County Sheriff’s Office – March 21, 2016 collected 9,562 pills


  • Physician’s Task force at CHS Blue Ridge implemented new Narcotic / Benzodiazepine Prescribing Alert System for discharged patients on October 25.The new reporting system flags for:
    • Three or more active narcotic or benzodiazepine prescriptions in last 30 days,
    • >50% of the prescribed meds remaining from at least one narcotic or benzodiazepine prescription
    • Narcotic or benzodiazepine administration during an ED or urgent care visit 2 or more times in last 30 days
    • Any history of a positive toxicology screen for marijuana or cocaine, or a positive blood alcohol content testRed Ribbon Week- National Substance Abuse Prevention Week.
  • Assessed current drop box availability in community and assessed need for additional boxes.


  • Presented the dangers of non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) to over 350 youth
  • Held “Parents Inspire Prevention” 3 part educational series for parents in partnership with the Underage Drinking Initiative.
  • Held a Parents Town Hall event (70 parents) with Underage Drinking Initiative and faith community.
  • Delivered prevention education on NMUPD to over 400 adults (parents, faith community members, health fair participants, civic groups, community college students, Morganton City Council, County Commissioners, et al.)
  • Presented to 5th grade students and elementary parents on NMUPD and medication safety.
  • Conducted 2 surveys on youth substance abuse – 559 students in May, 2015 and 750 students in October of 2015.
  • Planned and presented at the 2016 Opioid Summit.
  • Gave educational presentation to all Burke County Public School counselors and nursing staff on the non-medical use of Prescription drugs.
  • Physician’s task force coordinated with nursing administrators at Grace Hospital to have a nurse, who is in recovery from prescription opioid addiction speak to the nursing staff (roughly 50), and physicians (5) on best practices for treating patients who are addicted to prescription mediations.
  • Gave presentations to inform and partner with the Burke County Medical Society, 38 medical practices in Burke County, nursing directors at CHS-Blue Ridge, Burke Health Network, Burke Substance Abuse Network, and others.
  • Weekly Life Skills Training lessons for youth being raised by grandparents (ongoing)

 Upcoming Events and Goals

  • Airing a Lock Your Meds PSA on TV.
  • Presenting to Nursing Home managers on NMUPD
  • Presenting to American Society of Medical Assistants
  • Dissemination of  medication lock boxes
  • Increase utilization of drop box disposal through education and awareness campaign.
  • Adding medication drop boxes to two local pharmacies in each end of Burke County.
  • Reach youth through dynamic health class 1 hr lessons in partnership with BCPS.
  • Create a youth task force for the prevention of substance abuse.
  • Prescriber education – dentists, oral surgeons, community physicians, hospice workers, nursing home staff, PA society,  nursing staff, etc.

Underage Drinking Initiative

Initiative was sparked by a leadership training and planning grant offered by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's North Carolina Coalitions Initiative (NCCI). In year one, we were in the assessment and planning process and discovered that underage drinking is a key problem in Burke County; we have also garnered dedicated community involvement in the form on an underage drinking leadership committee and have begun to lay out goals and strategic plans. We are looking forward implementing these strategies in year two, evaluating short-term goals, and positioning ourselves for measuring long-term goals for three- to ten- years.

At a time when there is a great deal of attention focused on the use of prescription and illicit street drugs, underage drinking remains a problem in Burke County with serious consequences as supported by such data as:

  • In a 2013 Safe Schools & Healthy Students Survey of 1,634 high school students, 23% of respondents reported at least one drink of alcohol in the past 30 days and 14% reported 5+ alcoholic drinks (binge drinking) w/in a couple of hours in the past 30 days. (Burke County Public Schools)
  • From 2005-2014, Possession of Alcohol, Consumption of Alcohol, and DWI combined topped youth arrest reports involving drugs or alcohol for ages 12-18 at an average of 23% of arrests. (Morganton Public Safety
  • 43.8% said that alcohol is accessible in an unlocked place at home — either in the refrigerator, on the counter, in an unlocked cabinet, or otherwise within easy reach.
  • In the parent survey around accessibility, at least 57% admit alcohol is accessible in an unlocked place at home.
  • At least 44% of respondents can get alcohol from people over 21 — 37.8% can get it from a parent or guardian, 21.2% can get it at parties, and 8.8% can purchase it at businesses where clerks are not checking ID.
  • Youth feel they can drink at home or parties without consequences; 35.8% say they can drink at home with their parents knowledge and 23.5% say they can drink at parties with adult knowledge.
  • From the parent survey, 26.5% say they feel it’s ok for their children to drink at home, and 22.4% allow their children to attend parties where adults know that alcohol is being served.
  • Some parents are not speaking with their children about the dangers of underage drinking. 13.2% of youth say that their parents have not had a conversation with them and 14.3% of parents say they have not talked to their children.
  • 100% of parents surveyed admit they know that it is illegal for people over 21 to provide alcohol to minors, but 8.2% say that they believe it’s still ok to provide it.

In addition to these recent surveys, we know more conditions supporting this issue that are unique to Burke County:

  • Shortage of law enforcement and state ABC manpower creates a problem for the Alcohol Law Enforcement, and retail locations that don’t receive regular enforcement checks. According to our local ALE agent, retails checks are only being made on a complaint-basis.
  • In focus groups, parents admit that they allow their children to drink because of societal pressure.
  • In the Burke County Public Schools drugs and alcohol policy, consequences of violation include a required substance abuse program; parents are required to notified by policy, but not to be involved or present in any way.

Some of this information is not so surprising, but some of it is definitely beyond our expectations!

What do we do now?

Our long-term goal is obvious - to reduce underage drinking in Burke County. We know we'll never eliminate it, but, as you said in a past meeting, we have to use our rich resources to make SOME difference, and through Burke Substance Abuse Network, we're poised to do that. 

For more information about the Underage Drinking Initiative or the  Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drug efforts, please contact

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