Almost everyone has them—old, unused prescription drugs in their bathroom medicine cabinet. What do you do with them?
Starting next week, you can bring them to the police station.
Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone unveiled the MedReturn Drug Collection Unit program Friday morning. Through the program, which extends out to 29 county communities, residents will be able to dispose of prescription drugs in a free, safe and easy manner through large green collection boxes found at the police station.
“Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing problem in our communities,” said Leone Friday.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 2.4 million Americans abused prescription drugs for the first time in 2011—one-third of those Americans were teenagers.
According to Leone, police departments are facing drug problems in many communities, mostly among young people who are abusing someone else’s unused prescription drugs.
“Hopefully we will get unused prescription drugs and only those who are the rightful targets of the prescription will be using them,” said Leone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug use as an "epidemic" and reports that 70 percent of users get the drugs from relatives or friends.
In addition to getting the drugs out of homes, Leone said the MedReturn Drug Collection units are “environmentally sound.” No longer will people flush drugs down the toilet with this safe, effective option, he added.
The town of Reading already has one box, said Erica McNamara of the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse. With the one box, Reading has collected over 4,000 prescription drug bottles, she said.
“The prescription drug problem is the worst we have,” said Everett Police Chief Scott Mazzie. “This gets the drugs out of the houses.”
Everett will now have MedReturn Drug Collection Units at the police station, as well as the Board of Health.
Like Reading and North Reading, many of the Middlesex County departments take part in the national prescription drug take-back day, this year held in April.
Belmont Police Lieutenant Rick Santangelo said that after his community began to run the national program, many residents started asking about an every day drop-off.
“We’re already getting calls at the station,” said Lt. Santangelo.
Belmont Police Assistant Chief Richard Lane said he hopes the program helps people change their habits when it comes to disposal of prescription drugs.