By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It’s going to be easier for residents to dispose of expired or unwanted prescription medication.
The police station on Municipal Drive now has a permanent drop-off box in the lobby so people can bring in their old, unwanted and unused prescription drugs.
The box was donated to the department through its partnership with Community Alliance For Teen Safety. It is a collaborative effort to keep prescription medicines out of the wrong hands.
Police Chief Ed Garone said having the box gives people a chance to get rid of their prescriptions in a safe, confidential way.
It will be available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. No information will need to be given; residents can just stop by and dispose of their medication.
The lobby also has a “sharps” box for used syringes. The services are free.
All materials will be taken by police and then disposed of properly.
“There is no charge, no questions asked,” Garone said. “You bring the drugs in, place them in the container and leave the building.”
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials report rates of prescription drug abuse and accidental poisonings are on the rise, with non-medical use of prescription drugs ranking second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in America.
Local police have held five community drug collection efforts in the past and have collected some 600 pounds of unwanted prescription medicines.
These national drug collections began as a way to help people get rid of unused, old and potentially dangerous drugs safely and keep them out of the waste stream.
“That certainly makes the case for the need for what we’re doing,” Garone said.
He noted a recent survey showed about 70 percent of those abusing prescription drugs got them from a friend or relative.
CATS executive director Sue Centner said the statistics on dangerous prescription drug use are frightening. She said the collection box will help give people a sense of security that their unwanted or expired prescriptions will stay in the right hands and disposed of correctly.
“People are grateful to get them out of their houses,” she said. “People have been very mindful and are pleased to have this opportunity.”
Garone said the police partnership with CATS is a good one and continues the quest to keep prescriptions away from those that might abuse them.
Another community Take Back Drugs collection will be held in Derry on April 27 at Hood Commons. The permanent drop-off box is available at the police station now.
“It gets them out of their houses, off the streets and keeps young people from getting access,” Garone said.