Drug take-back event aims to interrupt supply
"It's one piece of a much large overall strategy to try to reduce the supply and the demand at the same time," Brockton Mayer Bill Carpenter said
By Tom Relihan
BROCKTON, Mass. — Darlene Campbell of Brockton lightly placed the plastic bag full of white-capped orange pill bottles on the table at the Council of Aging.
It's contents – about two dozen old prescriptions – would join the dozens of other pill bottles spread out across the table before being deposited in a tall, plastic-lined cardboard box. Then, they're headed to the incinerator.
For Campbell, turning over the drugs was all about safety. She has grandchildren who visit her house, and she shudders to think what could happen if one of them were to accidentally ingest any of the medication.
"I don't want them in the home," she said.
That was the overall goal of the prescription drug take-back event held at the Council Saturday morning. Held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the event was put on as part of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's National Drug Take-back day.
The event, said Mayor Bill Carpenter, has the same goal as a similar gun buyback event held at the Council a few weeks back: to help the elderly – and other residents – get old, unused or forgotten medications out of their homes and disposed of properly, so they can't be abused to stolen and diverted to the streets.
"We know statistically four out of five heroin users have abused prescription painkillers prior to their heroin use," he said. "There is, no question, a direct highway. We're proactively, systematically trying to get these drugs off the streets."
Throughout the year, the department and Brewster Ambulance visit the city's senior living high-rises with a mobile drug drop-box – a smaller version of the receptacle located in the lobby of the police department – to collect old medication.
"The seniors, the disabled – the people that are most likely to have the most dangerous painkillers are the ones that are probably least likely to be able to bring them down to the police station where the box is," he said.
And, if they are mobile enough to be able to make the trip, it can be dangerous because possessing large amounts of prescription drugs can make them a target for theft, he said.
"It's all about intercepting these drugs before they potentially end up in the wrong hands, but it also makes the seniors safer if they don't have this stuff in their apartment or house, because they're constantly being targeted by people who want to steal them," he said.
Sometimes, theft comes not in the form of a home invasion, but instead through trusted people known to the victim: family members, caretakers, and others, Carpenter said.
Brockton Police Lt. Richard Linehan said once the drugs are collected, they're securely transported to an incinerator for disposal.
"Whenever we go out and do a mobile pick-up, we partner with Brewster so that it's always two eyes on the box, if not three," he said. "The ambulance is GPS'ed, so it tracks us right up until we put it in the furnace."
The last time the department's lobby box was emptied, Linehan said, it clocked in at 50 pounds of discarded medication.
"It's one piece of a much large overall strategy to try to reduce the supply and the demand (for drugs) at the same time," Carpenter said. "We're interrupting the supply by collecting whatever we can collect."
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