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Officials Gather in West Hartford to Urge Participation in National Drug Take Back Day

West Hartford Police Lt. Dan Moffo speaks at a press conference about National Take Back Day. Courtesy photo

Officials urge families to participate in Saturday’s National Drug Take Back Day by safely disposing of unwanted medications.

DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon in front of the drug disposal box at the West Hartford Police Station. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

Local and state officials gathered Thursday morning at the West Hartford Police Station to urge the community to participate in National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday by emptying their medicine cabinets of expired or unnecessary prescription and over-the-counter medications.

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor. Courtesy photo

“National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications that could be a potential risk to the public health and safety of our community, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said. “The program is a free, anonymous, and open to all.”

Ensuring that medications are not left left accessible is particularly important as the holidays approach, officials said, when many families will be entertaining or hosting guests in their homes.

“We know there is no one solution to the opioid crisis, but we also know that we all can take small steps every day to improve the lives of those around us, and disposing of unneeded medication is one of those steps,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said in a statement. “I hope that any Connecticut families with unneeded medication in their home will take this opportunity to empty their medicine cabinets, and plan to make drug disposal part of their routine.”

In addition to unwanted medications, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced Thursday that vaping and e-cigarette products can also be turned in at collection boxes throughout Connecticut.

“As vaping illnesses and deaths continue to rise, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will allow for vape pens or other e‐cigarette devices to be collected (only after batteries are removed from devices) for the first time,” a press release stated.

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said that being proactive is an important part of preventing addiction and addressing the opioid crisis. “We can all play a role in keeping prescription medications out of the wrong hands,” she said. “By bringing your unneeded medications to a local drop box or drug take back event you can help keep your loved ones and community safer.”

Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. Courtesy photo

“Rates of prescription drug misuse in the United States and Connecticut are alarmingly high, as are the number of unintentional poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Renée Coleman-Mitchell in a statement. “Proper disposal of unneeded medication addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Usual methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing loose pills in the trash – both pose potential safety and health hazards, which is why it’s so important for residents to learn where to find a local drop box or drug take back event.”

West Hartford will be holding a drug take back event on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the West Hartford Public Works parking lot, located at 17 Brixton St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The program is anonymous and free of charge. Enter via Brixton Street and volunteers will be on hand to take items from your vehicle.

The event is being coordinated by the West Hartford Police Department, the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

National Take Back days take place twice a year. “[F]or many families that’s not enough. When you’re done disposing of medication, take a minute to put a day on your calendar once a month, once a week, or whatever you need to dispose of your family’s unneeded medication,” the DCP recommended.

Department of Public Health Commissioner Renée Coleman-Mitchell. Courtesy photo

Lt. Dan Moffo, assistant public information officer for the West Hartford Police Department, noted Thursday at the press conference that in addition to the ability to dispose of medications at Public Works on Saturday, there is a box in the station lobby where unwanted medications can be dropped off at any time.

Those who are unable to make it to a drop box or take back event can also dispose of medications at home, using a drug disposal kit from the pharmacy. Other recommended safe disposal methods include “mixing your medication with hot water and something undesirable (like used kitty litter or old coffee grounds), and placing it in a secure container before throwing it away.” Medications should never be flushed down the toilet or sink, officials warned.

Those with questions or concerns about drug drop boxes or drug disposal in the State of Connecticut may contact DCP’s Drug Control Division by emailing [email protected].

Individuals and their loved ones interested in help for addiction can call the DMHAS ACCESS Line at 1-800-563-4086 to be connected to addiction services and treatment. For more information about opioid use disorder visit the DMHAS LiveLOUD website at www.liveloud.org.

For more information about National Drug Take Back Day, and to find collection sites across the country, visit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website here.

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