In Eastie last year there were 144 NRIs, or Narcotic Related Illnesses, with four referred to the Medical Examiner meaning the patient was dead by the time Boston EMS arrived on the scene. There was also one additional NRI where the patient was transported to an area hospital in cardiac arrest and died on arrival.
These numbers show that on average there are roughly three NRIs a week in the neighborhood and proves we are no way near the end of the opioid crisis.
Today, you will notice there are pharmacy bags in this week’s East Boston Times but don’t throw them away because they are part of a “Drug Take Back” effort by the EASTIE Coalition to remove dangerous unused prescription drugs from your home that may end up in the hands of children, young adults or those struggling with substance abuse disorder.
The EASTIE Coalition (East Boston Alliance for Support, Treatment, Intervention and Education), an initiative of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, with support from the Mass General Brigham Centers for Community Health Improvement office and the national Drug Free Communities support program, is sponsoring this safe medication disposal effort.
East Boston Times readers can use the bags to collect unused prescription medications and drop them off at one of two locations in Eastie on Saturday, April 30.
Residents can drop off unused medication to staff and volunteers on Saturday at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s 20 Maverick Square location from 10 am-12 pm, and at Recovery on the Harbor at 983 Bennington St., from 12:30 pm-2 pm.
EASTIE Coalition Coordinator Joanna Cataldo this is second time the coalition has run this event, which coincides with the DEA’s National Drug Take Back Program. The first was during the DEA’s National Drug Take Back Program back in October.
“We are doing this during the DEA’s national event as part of our overall prevention strategy in Eastie,” said Cataldo. “This event is to raise awareness on multiple fronts. We do a lot of in-school prevention work, mostly at the Mario Umana, Donald McKay and Excel Academy Middle School. This event is to bring awareness to parents and guardians about the hazard within their own homes.”
Cataldo said during the last drug take back event in the fall, the coalition had over 60 people drop off the bags that were placed in the Times.
“It may not seem a lot but each bag had several bottles in them,” said Cataldo. “So we collected about 200 pill bottles and if there were 10, or 20, or 30 or 40 pills in them that’s a lot of dangerous drugs that got taken out of homes and out of circulation.”
Cataldo said it is important to have events like this because it educates the public on the dangers of hanging onto unused medications.
“We are working to keep these prescription medications out of the hands of kids, grandkids, adults or individuals struggling with addiction,” she said. “This is a way to clear out medicine cabinets of medications that some people might not even realize could lead a loved one to addiction.”
A 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million people in the U.S. misused prescription pain relievers in 2019. The survey also showed that a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
Having Recovery on the Harbor as a drop off location will also give residents the opportunity to learn more about the new recovery support center in Orient Heights.
As a reminder, there is a prescription drop box at the District A-7 East Boston Police Station located at 69 Paris Street.
Cataldo reminded residents that no liquids or needles will be accepted at the drop off locations and those looking for treatment services for a loved one can visit the EASTIE Coalition website at www.eastiecoalition.org. Residents can also reach out to Joanna Cataldo at 617-568-6492 or email [email protected] if there are any questions.