Some 135 residents took advantage of the prescription drug “take-back” day at police headquarters to relieve their medicine cabinets out-of-date or unused medications that filled five trash bags, police Major Thomas Lucas reported.
Sponsored by the First Selectman’s Task on Substance Abuse, the Connecticut River Area Health District, and the police department, the event was Clinton’s first participation in the national campaign of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to deter the abuse and theft of prescription drugs by collecting unused, unneeded, or expired medications, as well as over-the-counter drugs and pet medicines.
Clinton, along with Branford, Westbrook, and Essex on the shoreline, was among 5,300 sites across the country who enlisted in the April 30 program.
Lucas was surprised by the number of residents who appeared at police headquarters in the four hours allotted for collection of medications, but they even included police Chief Todd Lawrie.
“I brought in all our unused stuff,” he said. “We collected all our medications and said, which do we use, and which don’t we use.”
While Lucas did not weigh the drugs collected by Clinton police, the DEA reported that the “Take-Back” campaign collected 242,000 pounds of prescription drugs in its first-ever national event last fall.
Lucas and DEA officials say that the program not only offers safe disposal of medications, rather than discarding them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, but also is a significant benefit in addressing the rise of prescription drug abuse among young people.
According to the DEA, more than seven million Americans abuse prescription drugs, and each day 2,500 teenagers use them to get high for the first time.
The drugs collected in Clinton and other sites were sealed and turned over the DEA for disposal by incineration.
Individuals who were unable to participate in the drug take-back day can safely dispose of their medications by mixing them, uncrushed, with an unpalatable substance – kitty litter or used coffee grounds are suggested – and then placing that mixture in a sealed plastic bag that is thrown into the trash.