In 2018, over 1,000 people in Connecticut died from unintentional drug overdoses. More than 90 percent of those deaths were opioid-related.
In an effort to make a difference in the opioid crisis, state health officials came together in West Hartford Thursday to promote the Drug Take Back events going on this weekend across the state for National Drug Take Back Day.
“It’s not just a problem for government to solve,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “There’s really a role for every single person to be involved to address this problem.”
At the event held at the West Hartford Police Department, officials said tackling the opioid crisis has to start with residents clearing out their medicine cabinets.
“People report that their misuse started from prescription drugs,” Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said.
Seagull and Delphin-Rittmon are teaming up with local law enforcement urging families to take part in National Drug Take Back Day and safely dispose of their medications.
West Hartford Police Officer Daniel Moffo said the goal is to, “prevent it from getting into the hands of someone who is either going to do harm to themselves or negatively impact their friends, their family or their community members.”
West Hartford Police will be holding their own drop-off event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Department of Public Works on Brixton Street.
“We take any prescription or non-prescription med as well as pet medication. Some of the things we don’t take are syringes, open containers full of liquid,” Moffo said.
Moffo’s department is one of about 100 locations across the state where a drug drop box is available 24/7.
Since 2012, these boxes have collected over 40,000 pounds of drugs.
“We feel that every single pill that we put in here is preventing someone from getting their hands on it, and if we can do that we know we can have a positive impact on our community members,” Moffo added.
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said that during the holiday season, you should be particularly careful about locking away or getting rid of medications so they don’t get into the wrong hands.
“You might have people in your house that you usually don’t have in your house,” explained Mayor Cantor. “You don’t know what kind of mental state they might be in or what their living patterns are, so you just need to be aware of that.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced they will be accepting vaping products as part of their National Drug Take Back Day for the first time this weekend.
“All unused medication and at this point vaping products as well is something we need to be conscious about, especially when there’s children in the home,” Enfield Chief of Police,Alaric Fox told NBC Connecticut.
The Enfield Police Department is one of the drug drop-off locations that will be accepting vaping products like e-cigarettes and pods for this Saturday.
“Even for adult users, we’ve certainly seen a lot of attention recently that’s caused us to question the safety of these products,” explained Chief Fox, “we want folks to make smart choices, but we also want them to know that we’ll accept their unwanted vaping products.”