Helping to Save Lives – Disposing Safely of Unwanted Medications

For over a decade AHM Youth and Family Services, its drug prevention task force called the Coalition for a Healthy and Empowered Community (AHM CHEC) along with the CT State Police have sponsored a Drug Take Back event. Once again RHAM High School hosted the event, which took place on Saturday, October 29, 2022.

Since this semi-annual event started the local schools, towns and some community members have supported this effort, this year’s fall event broke all previous records with a haul of 254 pounds in unwanted medications and over-the-counter drugs.

The Take-Back event had the participation of 96 residents, including 9 Andover, 58 Hebron, 8 Marlborough, 14 Columbia, and 7 other communities.

According to Jennifer Boehler, AHM’s Prevention Coordinator: “each fall and spring, AHM CHEC hosts this event that is organized nationally by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Many community partners helped again this year including members of AHM CHEC, the AHM Board, AHM’s SOAR youth group made up of RHAM MS and HS students, the UCONN School of Pharmacy, and multiple community members. A special thanks to Trooper Bryce Reed, the Town of Hebron’s Resident Trooper who was instrumental in helping to organize the event. Trooper Reed worked with AHM Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Boehler to help get the word out throughout the region of this important semi-annual effort to help dispose of medications safely.

Since 2011, AHM continued to get ever closer to a total collection of 3000 pounds of unwanted medications that have been safely disposed of through this regional community effort. The October haul helped set a new milestone having collected now 3057 pounds. AHM CHEC is made up of many different community sectors from the faith community, parents, school leaders, students, law enforcement, and community partners.

Communities across America are concerned about the rise in over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drug abuse among teens and the contamination of drinking water supplies. Tressa Giordano, AHM’s Executive Director added, “This project specifically helps keep our youth safe and protect our environment. Many teens are getting these drugs from someone they know, a friend, or a relative. This effort helps to decrease the amount of drugs in the region.”

According to Russell S. Melmed, Chatham Health District Director: “Chatham Heath District continues to rank in the top 10 for both prescribing and dispensing rate in the State of CT. While this does not directly mirror the risk of opioid overdoses, it does suggest a greater opportunity for both youth and adults to redirect and/or misuse prescription opioids based on access to these medications in our communities. Emphasizing the importance of locking up medications in the home and discarding unused medications in available drop boxes throughout the year or during large take-back events remain important prevention strategies.”

At the Public Safety Complex on Route 66 in Hebron, there is a drug collection box available year-round for Andover, Columbia, Hebron, and Marlborough residents as part of the town’s commitment to working with AHM to help keep our young people safe. For more information about this event, or other regional community AHM programs, please contact Jennifer Boehler, AHM Prevention Coordinator, JenniferB@ahmyouth.org at 860-228-9488, Ext. 22.