Police station offers safe ways to dispose of drugs, needles

WESTFIELD – City residents are reminded that a MedReturn box in the entrance of the Westfield Police Department on Washington Street is an ideal way to dispose of unwanted or unused medications.
“The main purpose of the MedReturn box is to reduce the supply of drugs that can potentially harm individuals and cut down on the abuse of prescription drugs,” said Westfield Police Chief Lawrence Valliere.

Unwanted medications can be placed in the MedReturn box in the lobby of the Westfield Police Department on Washington Street. (WESTFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT PHOTO)

The MedReturn box has been in the station for more than six years, noted Valliere.
“When unused medication is not disposed of, it becomes a very convenient and cost-effective way for an addicted person to acquire narcotics,” he said, adding, “One would not need a prescription and there is no cost. Also, unused medication is often resold out in the community.”
Tina Gorman, executive director, Westfield Council on Aging, noted in the July Voice of Experience newsletter that medications should never be flushed down the toilet or included with the household trash because they will “eventually work their way into the water supply where they can be a threat to public health.”
Valliere concurred with Gorman and added, “For me, cutting down on the availability of some of these highly addictive drugs is the biggest advantage.”
Items that are accepted for the MedReturn box include prescriptions, prescription patches, prescription medications and ointments, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, samples and medications for pets.
Among the items that are not accepted for the collection unit include hydrogen peroxide, inhalers, aerosol cans, ointments, lotions and liquids, medication from businesses or clinics, needles and thermometers.
Joseph Rouse, director of public health for the Westfield Health Department, said his department anticipated moving the Sharps Kiosk from Westfield City Hall to the police station by July 10.
“Since City Hall is temporarily closed, we will be relocating the kiosk so that city residents will have a way to dispose of their needles,” said Rouse, noting the needles must be in a puncture-proof container.
For thermometers with mercury that need to be discarded, the city’s transfer station has a designated area to drop them off, according to Rouse.
“The newer digital thermometers to be discarded may be placed in the trash as well as inhalers,” said Rouse, adding that for prescription liquids that are no longer needed, they should be mixed with coffee grounds or kitty litter, for example, to render them unretrievable.
For city residents dropping off items for either collection box, a face mask must be worn, and once one presses the police doorbell, an employee will provide assistance.
“Because the police department is always open, the safe disposal options are available all day and night, 365 days of the year,” said Gorman, adding, “Short-term parking and a walk-up ramp is available right in front of the building.”

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