New Canaan Police plan prescription pill drive this coming spring
In May, prescription pill disposal will join bank account withdraws, quarter-pound cheeseburgers and caramel macchiatos on the list of goods and services available to Fairfield County residents via drive-thru.
The New Canaan Police Department is helping to plan a premiere prescription pill drive open to all members of the public. Participants in the event, to be held at Saxe Middle School, will be able to dispose of expired or unwanted pill-form medications without even having to exit their vehicle.
The aim of the drive, according to New Canaan Police Department Youth Division Sgt. Carol Ogrinc, is to curb prescription pill abuse among teens by offering parents a way to cleanse all unneeded pills from their medicine cabinet.
Excess pills create a greater risk of abuse in a household, Ogrinc said. The drive will help residents avoid unfit disposal methods like toilet flushing, which contaminates the water table and creates a public health hazard, she said.
"It's much like a hazardous waste day where you bring your stuff, drop it off, get rid of it, but there is an awareness component," said Tony Phillips, director of New Canaan Youth Services. "Parents need to know that you shouldn't have medications laying around the house if they are expired or if they aren't being used because we see the trends that kids are getting to them, they are using them, they are selling them. It puts them at risk [and] it puts their friends at risk, whether it be health consequences or enforcement consequences."
According to Ogrinc, the drive also aims to raise awareness about the environmental risks of improper prescription pill disposal.
"There is a youth component to this event, which was my focus," Ogrinc said. "Kids are taking medications out of their home medicine cabinets [and] taking them or selling them to their friends and I never even thought of the environmental part because I was so focused on the kids, but awareness of proper disposal methods is also important."
According to Regional Youth Liaison of Lower Fairfield County Regional Action Council Amy Badini, the proper home disposal method is to mix unwanted prescription pills with "un-appealing" substances like cat litter or coffee grounds and then dispose the mixture as normal with the rest of the household trash.
"The ideal disposal method is through these "take back your meds" days, but you can safely dispose of it at home, too," she said.
The last local medication drive was in October and open only to Trumbull and Monroe residents, according to Ogrinc. Nearly 500 pounds of pills were collected at this autumn drive, Ogrinc said.
"Initially, we wanted it to be [for] New Canaan residents, but we're not going to turn anyone away," she said. "The fear is that someone turned away might just throw them out."
New Canaan's first "Turn in your Meds Day" is tentatively scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 1 at Saxe Middle School. The medication disposal drive is free open to the public.