Greenwich Police collected nearly 150 pounds of prescription and unsafe drugs following a joint drug take-back program with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency Saturday. Part of a national initiative by the DEA, Greenwich‘s event was one of thousands occurring simultaneously across the country. Saturday’s national effort was the DEA’s eighth such push in four years, adding to the nearly 3.5 million pounds of expired, unused and unwanted drugs collected in prior years.
“The process is a simple and easy way to let people know how to properly dispose of their prescription drugs,” said Lt. Kraig Gray.
The abuse of prescription narcotic has been an increasingly significant problem for drug enforcement in suburban communities, said Gray, where people looking for a quick high can often need to look no farther than in a medicine cabinet. Nationally, prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in recent years. According to DEA figures, in 2011, American hospitals saw nearly 420,000 visits related to the misuse of prescribed narcotics – nearly double from five years earlier.
“In the suburbs , there’s a lot of opportunity for painkillers to be abused when left unattended in medicine cabinets or around the house,” said Gray.
So when it comes to disposing of prescription drugs, out of sight, out of mind just isn’t enough, said Sgt. John Thorme.
“Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards,” he said in a release.
The Greenwich Police Department operates a prescription drug turn-in bin in the lobby of the Public Safety complex, where residents can turn in unwanted drugs of any sort – excluding sharps – at any time. Fittingly, the items turned in Saturday afternoon ran from the troubling to the harmless to the perplexing.
“The 150 pound we collected ran the gamut from weird, natural remedies to male enhancement pills to expired Tylenol,” said Gray.
The collected drugs will next be lightly sorted through to remove any potential harmful items for proper destruction, police said. The majority of items will then be sent to Bridgeport, where they will be incinerated.