EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 26, 2013

N.H. police collecting unused prescription drugs

N.H. police collect unwanted medication

People can get unused prescription drugs out of their homes today.

Most Southern New Hampshire police departments are participating in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“This whole program is great,” said Newton police Sgt. Mike Jewett. “This gets drugs out of the medicine cabinet and out of the reach of kids.”

Drug Take-Back Day makes it less likely something bad will happen with drugs, he said.

Jewett is right to be concerned.

A state Department of Health and Human Services report released yesterday said New Hampshire is above the national average and higher than other northeast states for prescription drug abuse among 18- to 25-year olds.

The report, based on 2011 statistics, said one in eight young adults admitted to abusing painkillers. The report also said New Hampshire saw its highest number of drug-related deaths that year, 200, with 80 percent involving prescription drugs.

Officials said the 2012 statistics showed improvement, but weren’t ready to call it a trend.

Drug Take-Back Day happens twice a year, in April and October. State and federal officials participate in the program that’s intended to head off problems ranging from overdoses to illegal drug dealing.

“I think it’s a positive effort to prevent prescription drug abuse,” Windham fire Chief Tom McPherson said. “It reduces those incidents where children and even pets may ingest improperly disposed or stored medications. Those incidents lead to overdose, injury and even death.”

In New Hampshire, the state Department of Environmental Services supports the program because drugs, improperly disposed of, could harm the environment.

“It helps in a number of ways,” said Leo Ducey, resident agent in charge for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “The most important is that it gets medicine out of the cabinets of people’s homes. This is doing the environment a favor and it is doing people a favor.”

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