The Lowell Police Department in conjunction with the City of Lowell Health Department has been collecting unwanted/unused medication from city residents for the last few years. The City of Lowell’s Health Department is one of 15 “MassCALL2” communities that received funding from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Bureau of Substance Abuse (BSAS) to reduce Opioid Overdoses. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are increasing at alarming rates, especially for teenagers who report they can easily obtain prescription pills from medicine cabinets in their own and other people’s homes. Common practice has been for residents try to dispose of the unwanted medication by throwing it in the trash or toilet drain. Unfortunately some communities are finding drug residue in surface waters and/or water supplies.
In an effort to develop an initiative for the proper disposal of prescription drugs, Lowell received grant funding to purchase these kiosks. This program has gained popularity and folks routinely call the Health Department to find out the next scheduled collection date. Removing unused medications was a means to prevent abuse or theft of these drugs. Also, giving folks a way to dispose of these medications rather than flushing them away, reduced the pollution of the water supply. This initiative has moved into a new phase. A kiosk has been installed in the front lobby of the Lowell Police Department and is accessible to the public 24/7. This kiosk is a secured, locked receptacle designed to be a collection point for the unwanted medications. There is a slot on the front that is capable of accepting sealed plastic bags containing pills. NO liquids or sharps may be deposited into this kiosk. Folks are instructed to remove the pills from the prescription bottles and seal them in a plastic “ZipLock” bag before arriving at the LPD. The police will not be supplying materials for the disposal of unwanted medications nor do we want folks to be packaging the meds in the lobby. The pills should be ready for immediate deposit into the kiosk upon arrival to the station lobby.
If anyone is interested in further information or resources available for Opioid Overdose Prevention, please call Chris Connolly, RN, BSN at the Lowell Health Department at 978-970-4010 ext 9-1066 or visit the website at www.lowellma.gov/depts/health and click on Opioid Overdose Prevention under the quick links. “Lowell is working very hard to strengthen the voice of saving lives and recovery from addiction,” said Chris Connolly.