"One of my friends introduced me to pills in which I never knew you could even do anything with getting high or anything like that," said Cunningham.
Before he knew it, Cunningham was one of the tens of thousands of people addicted to prescription opioids.
"After a while, it's no longer a choice as much as it is you're chemically dependent on this. It's no longer "I want to wake up and do this", it's "I have to wake up and do this," said Cunningham.
Some addicts don't wake up at all. According to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, every 16 minutes someone dies from an opioid overdose in the U.S.
With Cumberland County ranking number two in Law Enforcement Narcan reversals, according to the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, United Healthcare donated 10,000 opioid disposal kits to the Cape Fear Valley Health Care system.
Research shows seven out of 10 people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family and often times from medicine cabinets.
The disposal kits can help safely toss out leftover medicine by the following steps:
- Remove medicine from the original container
- Place pills, patch or opioid liquid in the pouch
- Wait thirty seconds, seal and then dispose in the trash
The kits are available through Project Lazarus.