The Star-Herald

Presque Isle police, TAMC to host Drug Take Back Day

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On Monday, April 9, the Presque Isle Police Department and The Aroostook Medical Center will partner for a Drug Take Back Day to be held simultaneously with the hospital’s Community Drug Forum, as part of their monthly Healthy Aging Lunch and Learn series at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center.

Although National Drug Take Back Day for spring 2018 is scheduled across the country on Wednesday, April 28, officials from the police department and TAMC realized that the Healthy Aging Lunch and Learn program, which draws in around 170 senior citizens each month, would be a good opportunity to reach out to a population that often has unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs that the police department can dispose of properly.

National Drug Take Back Day also is held annually in October. In the fall of 2017, a total of 912,305 pounds of prescription drugs were collected by law enforcement groups nationwide, while another 900,386 pounds were collected in April of that year.

One of the risk factors of keeping unused medication, according to Presque Isle Police Chief Matt Irwin, is having that medication stolen by a family member or friend to feed a prescription drug addiction.

“The police department gets a handful of complaints every month from people who realize that their medications were stolen,” Irwin said. “Then there’s always a number of cases that go unreported.”

TAMC Community Health Specialist Jamie Guerrette said that the Healthy Aging panel and Drug Take Back Day also will be a great way to educate the community about the dangers of using expired medications.

“Senior citizens often end up with older medications and so this event offers them a place to turn in what they don’t need and keep them from using medication that’s not effective anymore,” Guerrette said.

Irwin emphasized that all community members are encouraged to bring unused or unwanted medications to the police department for proper disposal throughout the year, not just during the annual Drug Take Back Days.

“I know that last April, Maine took in 40,000 pounds of unused medications just on the Drug Take Back Day alone. We were ahead of Massachusetts, who took in 20,000 pounds,” Irwin said. “People can drop off medication to us 24/7.”

The Community Drug Panel will feature Irwin; John Thyng, of TAMC’s Emergency Department; and Peter McCorison, a licensed clinical social worker at the Aroostook Mental Health Center, discussing issues related to drug usage in Aroostook County. Lola Poirier, substance abuse prevention specialist at the  Aroostook County Action Program, also will be on hand to talk about current misuses of marijuana that have occured since its legalization in Maine.

Individuals who wish to attend the Healthy Aging Lunch and Learn must register before Wednesday, April 4, by calling (207) 768-4171. The cost to attend the luncheon after the panel discussion is $5 for members of TAMC Senior Connection and $10 for non-members.

For more information on Drug Take Back Day, contact Guerrette at (207) 768-4008.

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