It’s official, Deposit Your Unwanted Prescription Drugs! A green drug collection unit is now permanently located in the lobby of Medford Police Department (located at 100 Main Street).
The Medford Police Department in conjunction with the City of Medford Health Department and Team Medford are partnering to implement a permanent prescription drug disposal program for unwanted and unused prescription medications for city residents. The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office purchased 30 MedReturn Drug Collection units through drug forfeiture funds, and distributed the units to 30 communities. Medford and many other communities are now participating in a county wide effort to reduce prescription drug access.
District Attorney Gerry Leone and Chief Leo Sacco are proud to provide an effective and convenient method for the safe disposal of unwanted medications. The goal of providing a 24-hour, 7-day per week drug disposal unit is to prevent the unintended consequences of prescription drug misuse and abuse. Prescription drug abuse is very pervasive in this area and the state. The focus for disposal is to rid homes of all medications, but the major concern is to dispose of all opioid based pain relievers, stimulants, and depressants as these drugs are causing serious harm.
“There is an unbelievable amount of medications in the homes and this disposal will give families the opportunity to eliminate these drugs, which is typically the first point of access for youth. By the Police Department and Health Department working together we know this is a start to addressing prescription drug abuse in our community,” said Chief Leo Sacco.
Unwanted, unused, or expired prescription drugs pose substantial risks to communities by either falling into the wrong hands, leading to more serious drug use, or by damaging our environment through improper disposal. By providing an environmentally safe and secure location to dispose of medications, and ridding the home medicine cabinets of prescription drugs, our community will directly benefit by disposing of these substances.
A Partnership for a Drug Free America survey of teenagers and their parents indicated that more than half the teens surveyed had tried painkillers or stimulants for non-medical purposes. In a youth survey conducted in 2011 by Team Medford known as the Communities That Care Youth Survey, lifetime use of painkillers without a doctor’s orders was 9.6% and lifetime use of stimulants without a doctor’s order was 4.7% among high school students. Lifetime use indicates ever having tried a substance.
The first use of prescription drugs for teens is typically from the home medicine cabinet, which highlights how important reducing this point of access is for our community. Ensuring that medications are safely monitored is teaching children from a young age that medications are not to be shared or misused. Parents, family members, and friends need to be aware that youth don’t believe prescription medication is particularly harmful when in fact it can be deadly if not taken as properly prescribed.
This comprehensive program will educate the public on why it is important to properly dispose of unwanted prescription drugs and the preventative measures that can be taken at home. Medford pharmacies will participate in the education program, and will offer informational flyers and tips on safe monitoring and securing, as well as other educational information. The City of Medford is very proud to be collaborating with local pharmacies in the city’s prevention efforts. Promoting the safe disposal and proper securing of medications is protecting our youth and our future generations.
“I’m glad to see best practices being used in Medford to limit access to prescription drugs and reduce environmental hazards associated with medications in our water supply. We have been excited to have a large turnout for National Drug Take-Back events and this now provides a more convenient way to dispose of medications year round,” said Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn.
The Medford Police Department will continue to participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) National Take-Back Day bi-annually, which has received active responses from all those who have participated in the event. The National Take-Back event is another strategy to address the environmental problems that arise when unwanted prescription drugs are flushed down the toilet or left in the medicine cabinet. The next National Take-Back Day will be held on September 29th from 10am-2pm at Medford City Hall Parking Lot.
Proper disposal of medications has been an issue throughout the country. Flushing medications pollute our water supply because residue from the drugs can end up at wastewater treatment plants that cannot handle the chemicals, or the chemicals can leach out into groundwater. Throwing medications in the trash also poses a problem as it is an easy target for thieves and wildlife. The DEA incinerates the unwanted prescription drugs it collects during take-back events and the Medford Police Department will also take the prescription drugs from the disposal unit to the incinerator.
Public safety and public health are a priority for the City.
“This new program directly relates to the concerns that the City of Medford is addressing in regard to health and safety. This initiative will help reduce access to narcotics and educate the community on the value of securing and monitoring prescriptions. This program is a step in protecting our children and our environment, two important initiatives of the Public Health Department,” said Medford Board of Health Director Karen Rose.
Prescription drugs can be dropped off starting immediately with no questions asked. The community plays a pertinent role in helping to promote this initiative through conversation, social media, and visiting local pharmacies for more information.
Please contact TeamMedford@gmail.com for promotional materials and ideas.
- Submitted by Brooke Hoyt, Drug Free Communities Coordinator