Boston Will Take Your Prescription Drugs Now

A police officer empties out the drug kiosk in the police station.
A police officer empties out the drug kiosk in the police station.

It’s time to spring clean your medicine cabinet.

Governor Deval Patrick declared Massachusetts’s opiod addiction epidemic a public health emergency in March, but did you realize your neglected medicine cabinet could be contributing to the state’s drug abuse problem?

The majority (70 percent) of prescription drug abusers obtain drugs from friends or relatives, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The same research found that more than half of those age 12 or older who used pain relievers nonmedically in the past year obtained the drugs for free from a friend or relative.

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Map of drug drop kiosks in Boston.
Boston Public Health Commission

This Saturday, April 26, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors an annual no-questions-asked National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

People can drop off unused or expired medications year-round at 11 MedReturn Drug Collection kiosks throughout the city at distric police stations, but the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and the Boston mayor’s office hope that Saturday’s event will encourage Boston residents to take action against a local public health emergency.

“One of the best things we can do to combat substance abuse in our city is to help people avoid using in the first place,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in a prepared statement. Mayor Walsh announced an examination of the city’s addiction and recovery services in April.

The kiosks are the result of a collaboration between the Boston Police Department, BPHC, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. This program will provide a safe, effective, and sustainable way to dispose of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, pet medications, sample medications, inhalers, ointment, patches, as well as liquid medications in glass or leak-proof containers. Needles, thermometers, contaminated organic waste, and aerosol cans are not permitted in the collection bins.

Bromley-Health Collaborative will also host a recovery health fair at the Bromley-Health housing development in Jamaica Plain where attendees will review overdose prevention training, how to access and use opiod overdose reversal medication Nasal Narcan, as well as a review of the services available for substance abuse.

“Community engagement is at the core of our work to prevent and reduce substance abuse,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Executive Director of the BPHC in a prepared statement.

A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan.
A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan.

While you’re gathering medications for disposal, remember to scratch out identifying information.

Even if you’re not planning to dispose of expired or extra medications, don’t give leftover prescription drugs to others. Doctors prescribe medication based on specific aspects of a patient’s condition and medical history. Health officials warn that prescription drugs can be dangerous for people who weren’t originally meant to be taking them.

Learn more about the drug take back kiosks at the Boston Public Health Commission.