By Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – The East Longmeadow Police Department is one of many in the area who will join forces with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to collect unwanted or unneeded prescription drugs.
The DEA’s eighth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will take place on April 26 with the East Longmeadow Police collecting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Police Station at 160 Somers Road.
“This is an opportunity to remove old or unused narcotic drugs,” Police Chief Douglas Mellis said. “Clean out the medicine cabinets to lessen the chances of these drugs getting into the wrong hands.”
The drugs collected will be turned over to the DEA who will dispose of them in an environmentally safe manner. No needles or liquids are accepted as part of the take-back.
Drug take backs have been hosted with the cooperation of local law enforcement since 2010.
On Oct. 26, 2013, the DEA conducted its most recent take-back event at 5,683 sites in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and other U.S. territories and collected approximately 324 tons of prescription medications. All told, 1,733 tons of prescription drugs have been collected and properly disposed of thanks to the efforts of the previous seven events.
East Longmeadow first participated in the program in 2011 and since then has collected 709.4 pounds of unused drugs. The Police Department was one of 152 Massachusetts law enforcement offices to participate in October 2013. The town collected seven boxes of drugs, weighing in at 192.2 pounds – its largest amount to date.
The state compiled more than 17,000 pounds, more than any other state in New England.
According to a press release from the DEA, prescription medications are “highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse,” and with 6.8 million Americans using them inappropriately, more Americans abuse these drugs than those who use cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens like LSD, and inhalants combined, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
In addition, collection of the drugs prevents water pollution that can occur from the medications being improperly disposed of.
“Many residents may still be disposing of these down the drain or in the trash,” Mellis said. We strongly suggest they think about dropping off at the police department so they can be destroyed properly.”