By John Toole
---- — 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.”
Granite Staters continue to turn in more drugs to the three-year-old campaign.
Ducey said about 1,127 pounds were collected the first time in 2010. Last April, people contributed 5,687 pounds, he said.
That is despite less participation from police. It’s not that police don’t value the program. Ducey said some departments, like Salem, have established collection boxes where people can dispose of drugs throughout the year.
Still, officials anticipate there will be more than 70 collection sites statewide. Participation is anonymous and simple.
“I think the major benefit of the program is that the program is anonymous,” McPherson said.
People will find it’s easy.
“It’s about as simple as it gets,” Ducey said.
People bring their unwanted, expired and unused prescription drugs to drop-off locations, usually police departments, for disposal.
“They walk in the lobby and put it in the box anonymously,” Ducey said. “Nobody will look at it.”
Some people will black out their name on a bottle or remove the prescription label, but don’t have to, he said. Police won’t look.
“Nobody even cares,” he said. “Whatever is in there will get incinerated.”
Drug drop-off sites
Here is a list of collection locations in the region. Times are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
DANVILLE: Kimball Safety Complex, 206 Main St.
DERRY: Hood Commons, 55 Crystal Ave.
LONDONDERRY: Police station, 268A Mammoth Road.
NEWTON: Police station, 8 Merrimac Road.
PELHAM: Police station, 14 Village Green.
PLAISTOW: Rite Aid, 31 Garden Road.
SANDOWN: Police station, 314 Main St.
WINDHAM: Police station, 4 Fellows Road.