Hingham police officials are marking off the 2012 Drug Take Back Day as a success after participation at the event was the highest it has been in four years.
Compared to last year, the number of pills collected increased 36 percent (jumping from 20,620 to 28,076), and the number of controlled substances and narcotics submitted was three times higher than last year (increasing 1,621 to 4,393).
Additionally, the number of non-controlled substances increased 33 percent (from 17,829 to 23,682), and the number of attendees almost doubled (from 65 to 111).
All of those numbers are higher than any charted in the last four years at the event, which has been held at both the transfer station, as it was this year, and the Hingham Police Station.
According to Sgt. Steven Dearth with the police department, the main reason Hingham police prioritized “Operation Safe Medicine Cabinet” was to remove easy access to prescription medication.
“Unfortunately, the home is the easiest place where adolescents and adults gain access to controlled substances,” Dearth said. “This includes teens trying them, bringing them to school, giving or selling them to others, [or] friends of the teens stealing them when they visit. It also allows easy access to adult family members who have addictions as well as access by others doing work in the house (such as contractors or cleaners).”
Disposal methods have also changed drastically in the last several years, with people no longer being told to flush unwanted medicines in the trash, as it can leach into soil and drinking water.
“Also, if they are simply thrown in the trash there is still the risk of someone finding and using them,” Dearth said.
To help with the day, pharmacists from the Hingham Center Pharmacy and Nantasket Pharmacy volunteered their time to identify, count, and categorize the medicine.
The Hingham D.A.R.E program, the Department of Public Works, the Hingham Senior Center, and the Hingham Recreation Center also all did their part by handing out flyers, setting up equipment, and disposing of medical equipment such as syringes.
Volunteers from the Hingham Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association helped collect and black out all the names and addresses on prescription bottles.
Although there were people on hand to ensure no prescription bottle was donated with a name on it, more people than last year arrived with names already blacked out, Dearth said.
While there was increased awareness of how to donate prescription pills on Drug Take Back Day, locals were still unaware that the Hingham Transfer Station collects syringes on a regular basis.
Hingham Police also collect medicines at a drop-off bin in the lobby of the police station, which is always open, Dearth said.
While the drop-off bin had a one-time fee of $1000 to purchase the container, Operation Safe Medicine Cabinet didn’t cost the town anything, Dearth said.
Covanta-SEMASS agreed to waive the fees for the incineration of the drugs. Additionally, with the help of volunteers – from pharmacists to residents – there were no other upfront costs with the practice.
Overall, the day helped get a lot of potentially harmful drugs off the streets.
“All the items collected are things that are lawfully prescribed or purchased for medical reasons. These collections events should be viewed as a proactive and awareness event,” Dearth said. “We are not implying that all of these items collected would be misused but we know that they have the potential to be misused if not stored or disposed of properly.”
To view a cohesive list of what was collected at the day, click here..