EASTIE Coalition Sponsors Drug Take Back Event Saturday

You may notice there are plastic pharmacy bags in this week’s East Boston Times and think, “I wonder what this is for?”. 

Well, don’t throw them out 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, Oct. 23. 

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 pm-2 pm.

“It’s the first year that we’re using this form of promotion,” said EASTIE Coalition Coordinator Joanna Cataldo. “We’ve had a few Drug Take Back events in the past but this is the first year we’re using the pharmacy bags to help promote the idea of clearing out your medicine cabinet. So now people can use these bags, and then drop them off at the two locations in Eastie. The bags will be in the newspaper and people can simply bring the bags filled with unused or unwanted prescription medication and then exchange them for a gift card.”

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.”

Cataldo said according to the 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. 

“The goal of this event is to raise awareness and to remind members of the Eastie community that we can all play a role in reducing the risk of a young person gaining access to addictive prescription medications,” she said. 

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. 

“I think that it’s a really good promotion for us because maybe we’ll see a different population than we would typically see,” said Recovery on the Harbor Director Rose Stone. “This might be the first experience of coming in here and seeing what we’re about for a lot of people. There may be some people on Saturday that get information that they need, whether it’s for them or another family member, take a look around and feel safe and comfortable about sending their family member or a friend so we can begin to help.”

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 617-568-6292 or email [email protected] if there are any questions.

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