The Wilton Police Department’s efforts to keep prescription drugs off the streets by collecting outdated and unused medications at a take-back box in the police station lobby is a resounding success.
“In our past two disposals there was nearly a twofold increase in weight,” said Lt. Robert Cipolla, spokesman for the department. The pickup grew from 85 pounds of drugs to 160 pounds, mostly pills.
The question of why it is so successful remains to be answered.
“There has been a lot of attention called to the opioid crisis, so that is a possibility,” said Cipolla, who said the drugs are incinerated on a quarterly basis.
Data from Partnership for a Drug Free America shows 60% of teens say prescription drugs are easy to get at home, and 40% of teens think prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs.
To encourage use of the drop box, the Wilton Woman’s Club will sponsor an unused medicine drive at police headquarters on Saturday, March 4, from noon to 4.
The club has made the theme of its 10th annual fund-raiser Wilton’s Call to Action: Fight Substance Abuse! All proceeds raised at the March 30 event will go to the Wilton Youth Council for an initiative to educate young people, their parents, and the community about substance abuse and strategies for preventing it. Last year the club raised $35,000 to support the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail.
Recently, Ellen Brezovsky, director of community relations at Silver Hill Hospital, spoke to club members about the “road to addiction.”
“It is so important that we reduce access to these very addictive drugs,” she said. “Keeping prescription and illicit drugs and alcohol out of the hands of teens is especially important given that the brain does not fully develop until the age of 25.”
Drugs can be dropped off anonymously, at any time of day or night. Any drug in pill, liquid, ointment, or powder form — over-the-counter, prescription, samples, pet medications — is welcome, so long as it is in a container. Personal use items like hypodermic needles or other “sharps,” thermometers, and hazardous waste may not be deposited in the boxes.
When dropping off medications, all personal information should be removed from containers. Plastic bags that are provided should be used. Items that will not fit in the box’s chute should not be left. Liquids should not be poured directly in the box.
The same upward trend in drug drop-offs here is being reported statewide by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The governor announced Feb. 15 that Connecticut saw a dramatic increase in the amount of prescription medications that residents dropped off at collection boxes during 2016, with a total of 33,803 pounds, up 43% from 23,651 pounds of drugs the previous year.
“The increasing amount of unwanted medication that’s being collected at our drop-off boxes is a good sign that people in our state are taking the epidemic of prescription drug abuse seriously,” Malloy said in a statement.
The governor this year introduced legislation to further the state’s efforts with combating opioid addiction and overdoses. “We all know how common it is to have extra, unneeded prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, and you may think that they present no harm. However, you never know who could gain access and potentially misuse them. Whenever medications are no longer needed for their intended purpose, it’s best to remove them from your home safely and securely, and these drop boxes are a good way to dispose of them. The misuse of prescription drugs is a nationwide problem impacting people of all ages and backgrounds, and we must do everything we can to tackle it,” Malloy said.
The state’s prescription drug drop box program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) in cooperation with state and local police departments. Since the program launched in 2012, the amount of unused prescription medications collected at the boxes across the state has steadily increased each year. In 2012, 3,639 pounds were collected; in 2013, 8,149 pounds were collected; and in 2014, 15,930 pounds were collected.