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    Thursday, June 20, 2024

    Groton senior center, human services will distribute 250 pill-dissolving pouches

    Lisa Bragaw, a clinical pharmacist at Simply Pharmacy in Waterford, demonstrates the use of a drug-disposal kit in December 2016. Hundreds of the pouches are now available at Groton's Senior Center and Human Services department. (Judy Benson/The Day)
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    Groton — Kits that destroy prescription medications are now available in Groton to people who wish to keep their drugs out of the wrong hands but may not be able to get to drop boxes at the town's police stations for that purpose.

    The Groton Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, or GASP, used money from a Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services grant program, which is intended to help communities confront the prescription opioid crisis, to pay for 250 Deterra prescription drug-disposal pouches that use a charcoal-like substance to deactivate the drugs on a molecular level.

    The pouches are available at the Groton Senior Center and Groton Human Resources department.

    Carolyn Wilson, a health program coordinator at Ledge Light Health District who runs GASP, said the kits are a safe and convenient method for disposing of prescription medications for those who do not want them to end up in the wrong hands or in local waterways, but cannot access the two prescription-drug drop boxes in town.

    "It's an instant way to dispose of whatever you have lying around the house," Wilson said.

    Prescription drop boxes are installed at both the Groton City and Groton Town police stations, and the pouches are intended as another option for anyone who does not have access to transportation or wants to destroy their unused medication at home.

    The pouches are designed to destroy up to 45 pills, 6 ounces of liquid or 6 drug patches at a time, Wilson said.

    In 2016, pharmacists applauded a British-based company's donation of 80,000 drug-deactivation kits to pharmacies across the state. They said that people often come to pharmacies after a family member dies to ask what to do with the person's unused prescription medications.

    Drugs flushed down the toilet can end up being discharged into rivers and streams, because municipal sewage treatment systems aren't equipped to remove these substances from the waste stream. And drugs left in a cabinet or bathroom could be taken by children or teenagers who could misuse them and become addicted.

    People with unused medications can put them in the deactivation pouch along with warm water, let it sit for 30 seconds, then shake it gently and dispose of it in a trash can.

    Wilson said if the disposal kits are not available, people usually are advised to bring the unused pills to drop boxes at local police departments or dispose of them using household materials.

    "It's great if you've got some leftover Percocet and you want to get rid of them," Wilson said of the pouches. "It destroys it chemically so it can't be abused. You put the stuff in the pouch, you add water and you throw it in the trash. You don't have to worry about putting it in the car and driving it to the police station."

    m.shanahan@theday.com

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