Safer Ways To Throw Away Drugs

St. Johnsbury- Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital has teamed up with law enforcement, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as part of their community coalition to prevent substance misuse in the community. In an effort to take back unneeded prescription drugs out of homes and dispose of them, in a nationwide event called Drug Take Back Day.

The Drug Enforcement Administration's goal in doing this world wide event, is to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. To prevent prescription drug misuse in the Northeast Kingdom, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital teamed up with St. Johnsbury Police Department. Along with Caledonia County Sheriff's Department to take back unwanted drugs from residents.

This day gives residents a chance to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs, and over the counter drugs in a safe way. This way, residents don't have to feel uncomfortable about throwing away their old prescriptions. Drugs were given to the police stations anonymously on Drug Take Back Day. The police department taking in drugs from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.

Sheriff Dean Shatney of Caledonia County, thinks the work being done to get drugs out of people's homes is a great way to decrease the drug problem in Vermont. "If you keep prescription drugs in homes, I mean, it could potentially cause someone to break in looking for drugs. You don't want these drugs to be flushed down the toilets or sinks to get into water supplies and things like that, so this is the best way to dispose of them," Shatney explains.

In Governor Phil Scott's Press conference on April 23rd, Vermont's Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine addressed the Drug Take Back Day. Dr. Levine says that Covid-19 has created challenges for those with substance use disorders in the past year. During the Pandemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded eighty three thousand, five hundred forty four Americans overdosing during the 12-month period. This was the highest recorded in that time span.

Dr Levine asking Vermonters to take their unwanted drugs to their nearest disposal sites. "More than half of the people who misuse prescription drugs get it from a friend, or relative. Often straight out of the medicine cabinet. If you no longer need your medication, please do your part and dispose of it safely."

In partnership with several organizations in the community, NVRH being one of them have worked with law enforcement to deliver drug drop boxes that let residents dispose of their prescription drugs all year round. This is just another way for law enforcement and the hospital to serve their communities.

"It's showing the public that law enforcement, we're proactive, we're trying to get out there and help the citizens. We're not here to just make arrests, we're here to serve and protect. I look at it like this is one of the days that we are serving the community by taking back these drugs," Shatney said.

The permanent drug drop boxes are spread out in local police stations all over Vermont. In the NEK if you wish to drop off any prescription drugs at any time you can contact Caledonia County Sheriff's Department, Essex County Sheriff's Department, Lyndonville Police Department, NVRH Emergency Room, and St. Johnsbury Police Department. You can also visit healthvermont.gov/do your part, to see the nearest station near you in Vermont.