Nearly 60 Vermont locations will accept unused and expired medications on Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, including Rutland, Barre, Berlin, Brandon, Castleton, Fair Haven, Montpelier and Northfield.
Nationally, Drug Take Back has been around for over 20 years. A press release from Governor Phil Scott’s office called the event “a chance for people to clean out their medicine cabinets and get rid of prescription drugs that might otherwise be misused or improperly discarded.”
Sites, some of which, like the Brandon Police Station, are open year-round, have long accepted expired, unused or unwanted medications, but this year they will also accept vaping devices if the batteries have been removed and vaping cartridges.
Heather Brouillard, regional coordinator for the Partnership for Prevention at Rutland Regional Medical Center, said her work has focused primarily on preventing substance abuse among youth.
Nationally, when young people are able to access drugs for abuse, prescription drugs are the second most common source, Brouillard said.
According to Brouillard, young people can obtain drugs that can be abused, such as opiates, from family members or friends who have obtained them from family members.
“Being able to have this opportunity to take prescription medications, unused medications and dispose of them safely is extremely important for young people in our community. … So it’s a very important day,” she said.
In a statement, Scott called Prescription Drug Take-Back Day “significant to (Vermont’s) prevention strategy” in response to opioid abuse.
“A focus on prevention is critical as we confront the opioid epidemic, and it’s an invaluable tool in that work,” he said.
Brouillard stressed the importance of keeping certain drugs away from those who might not only abuse them but develop dangerous addictions.
“I mainly focus on 12 to 25 year olds and when you talk about that age group, prescription drug abuse can be a gateway to illicit drugs and worse,” she said. .
While some may believe they solve the problem by pouring unused prescriptions down the sink or flushing them down the toilet, Fog noted that this approach can contaminate Vermont waters and contribute to pollution.
Prescription drugs collected Saturday are safely gathered in one location and briefly stored before being moved out of state by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and incinerated.
Each year, between two and three tons of unneeded drugs are handed over for disposal at Vermont sites.
“Last spring was actually a record-breaking day for medication pick-up. In Vermont, they collected 7,165 pounds (over 3.5 tons) of unwanted medication, which broke the previous record from 2019,” said Fog.
Gerianne Smart, marketing and public relations manager for Rutland Regional Medical Center, said the event provided another opportunity. She pointed out that prescription drugs have expiration dates because they can lose their effectiveness over time.
“Recovery day is also a good time for people to assess what they have in their medicine cabinet, get rid of things that are no longer going to help them health-wise, and remember that if they need medication, it’s time to see their GP, not self-medicate and assume that just because they still have that medication it will work as well as it did three years earlier. This expiration date means something,” she said.
There is no charge to drop off unused medications as part of Prescription Drug Drop-off Day.
Vermonters can find the nearest site to take back medication by going online to dea.gov/takebackday and using the tool that allows searches based on zip code, county or municipality.
The filing site in Rutland is the Rutland County Sheriff’s Office – not the Rutland City Police Station. The Washington County Sheriff’s Department is another participating site.
Some companies, like Rutland Pharmacy and Kinney Drugs, are drop-off locations as well.