BANGOR, Maine — One way diverted prescription drugs get to Maine’s streets is through criminals who steal them from relatives, friends or strangers and sell them to drug users. Police say it happens in cities and towns all over the state and throughout the country.
One way to prevent drugs from being distributed illegally is for people to dispose of leftover or unused pharmaceuticals, Deputy Chief Troy Morton of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday.
Five area police agencies have received MedReturn boxes to collect the unwanted or unused drugs thanks to a funds provided by Bangor Health and Community Services and Sebasticook Valley Healthy Communities.
“They look like a post office box and they will allow people to bring in medications and drop them off,” Morton said. “It’s a good program.”
The MedReturn boxes have been installed in the lobby of the police stations in Bangor, Brewer, Orono and Veazie. There is also one in the lobby of Penobscot County Jail, the deputy chief said.
“Prescription drug abuse continues to have devastating effects on our community,” Morton said. “One method proven to be helpful has been the ‘safe drug return program.’ This program allows communities to safety depose of unwanted or expired household medicine and prescription medication.”
Hundreds of Mainers threw away their outdated or unwanted prescription medications as part of National Take-Back Day in September, an effort coordinated annually by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and the new MedReturn boxes offer a similar program, Morton said.
“It’s a good program,” he said, adding that the collections have prevented many drugs — including the highly addictive Oxycontin — from reaching illegal drug users.