Wilton Police Department adds prescription drug take-back box

  • The Wilton Police Department has installed a permanent take-back box for residents to deposit un-used or expired medications. Courtesy photo—

  • The Wilton Police Department has installed a permanent take-back box for residents to deposit un-used or expired medications. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/17/2019 1:28:58 PM

The Wilton Police Department has installed a medicine disposal box in its station in a step to continue combating prescription drug misuse.

In the past year, the number of opioid deaths and overdoses has dropped, decreasing from all-time highs the state has seen after a massive spike starting in 2013.

Karen Artemik, the assistant chief of the Wilton Ambulance, which serves Wilton, Lyndeborough, Temple and Greenfield, said the ambulance responds to a relatively small number of overdose calls, but still saw an increase with the rest of the state over the past few years, as did Milford, where she also serves on the ambulance.

“We’ve had some calls. We do have them, but it’s not like the problem in Manchester,” Artemik said.

In the last 18 months, the Wilton Ambulance has responded to 12 calls where an overdose was suspected or diagnosed.

Wilton Police Chief Eric Oleson said while drug abuse isn’t a major problem in Wilton, the drop-off box is one way the department is being proactive about keeping it that way. And, he said, it’s something the town’s residents have been asking for – with enough frequency that Wilton Police Sgt. John Frechette pursued a grant to install a box permanently in the department’s front entrance.

“We had people coming in and asking where they could dispose of their medications, and the only thing we could tell them was to go to Amherst or Peterborough,” Oleson said.

Oleson said during the most recent drug take-back day, which the department held twice a year, the Wilton Department took in two large boxes of medications.

The box is not intended to be a receptacle for illegal drugs or needles but is available for both controlled and uncontrolled prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs.

One of the goals of the annual take-back program is to safely dispose of medications which can be abused.

“Any kind of way that we can dispose of that is a positive thing,” Oleson said. “If we can prevent it from getting on the streets, we want to do that.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin use was 19 times higher among those who used a prescription painkiller compared to those who did not, making prescription opioid use a significant risk factor for heroin use.

In 2018, the number of both reported overdoses and deaths from opioid use dropped in New Hampshire.

However, in Cheshire County, numbers actually rose for both categories, according to the data provided by the state’s Medical Examiner and Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

In Hillsborough County, the number of overdoses and deaths both dropped, but remain the highest of any county in the state, by a wide margin.

In Cheshire County, there was a reported 17 drug overdose deaths in Cheshire County in 2017, and 30 in 2018.

Hillsborough County had 195 reported deaths in 2018, and 123 in 2018.

Emergency services used Narcan, a medication which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, 112 times in Cheshire County in 2018, compared to 104 times in 2017. In Hillsborough Country, Narcan was used 1,140 times in 2017 and 1,045 in 2018.

Peterborough and Rindge have also installed medical disposal boxes, where residents can drop off unused or outdated medication to be destroyed.

The Wilton drug take back box is located in the lobby in front of the department and is accessible from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

The box can be used to dispose of prescription medications and over-the-counter medications but does not accept illegal drugs, needles, lotions or liquids, inhalers, aerosol cans, thermometers or hydrogen peroxide.

Ashley Saari can be reached at asaari@monadnockledger.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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