Frederick Ryan, Chief of Police
112 Mystic St.
Arlington, MA 02474
Town of Arlington
James Feeney, Acting Director,
Department of Health and Human Services
27 Maple St.
Arlington, MA 02476
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Arlington Officials to Host Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
ARLINGTON — Chief Frederick Ryan, the Arlington Police Department, and James Feeney, Acting Director of Health and Human Services, are pleased to announce that as part of The Arlington Outreach Initiative, officials will host a door-to-door prescription drug take-back event at public elderly and disabled housing buildings this week.
The Arlington Police Department is among one of the first departments in the state sending its officers out to community members to offer to remove unneeded pharmaceuticals from their shelves. This is only one of many proactive efforts surrounding drugs and drug addiction that police are implementing since announcing the new drug protocols.
“Since we launched The Arlington Outreach Initiative, we are committed to thinking of different ways to respond to the opioid epidemic,” Chief Ryan said. “By focusing on prevention efforts, we hope to curb the number of residents becoming addicted to opioids and other drugs. Our belief is that this will also decrease overall crime in our community as well.”
Police and Health and Human Services, through the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition, partnered with the Arlington Housing Authority to make the endeavor possible.
On Aug. 19 and Aug. 20, a team will head to the four Arlington Housing Authority’s elderly and disabled complexes, Chestnut Manor, Cusack Terrace, Winslow Towers and Drake Village — a total of 415 units — to collect old and unused prescription drugs.
“We know, through anecdotes shared by residents struggling with addiction, that many found their way to heroin after misusing and abusing lawfully prescribed prescription painkillers,” Feeney said. “Research has shown that family and friends are a primary avenue for accessing these pills after prescriptions run out, so by eliminating this temptation we hope to prevent future residents from succumbing to addiction.”
Residents in the four complexes also have the opportunity to bring their unwanted prescription drugs to Winslow Towers on Aug. 20 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Citizens are asked to drop off their items at the main lobby.
“We are happy to partner with Arlington Police and the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition to put on this event for our residents,” said John Griffin, Executive Director of the Arlington Housing Authority. “Giving our residents a way to remove their unused or unwanted medication, without having to leave their homes, is the ideal situation, as many may not have the means to travel outside their apartment to dispose of these drugs.”
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered at Arlington High School in 2013 found that 10.4 percent of high school students had reported taking a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor in the past 30 days.
Over the years, the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition and the Police Department have removed countless controlled substances from circulation. They have also participated in National Drug Take-Back days and placed a drug collection kiosk in the lobby of the police station, which is available to the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Residents are encouraged to continue using this service for the disposal of unwanted medications, however, we understand we can be more proactive with our efforts, and that seniors and disabled adults may not be able to actively dispose of unwanted medications,” Feeney said. “We also understand this is a particularly vulnerable population, in the sense that the elderly are likely to have more medications in their cabinets, and may be a population that is more susceptible to theft.”
To ensure these prescription pills do not fall into the wrong hands, officials are taking every effort to recover, and ultimately destroy the drugs. In turn, they hope it will reduce the number of unused prescription drugs available for circulation in the community.
If successful, officials plan to expand their targeted efforts, and continue to explore other prevention and intervention strategies related to opioid addiction
The mission of the Arlington Youth Health & Safety Coalition is to prevent and reduce substance abuse and other risk behaviors that adversely affect Arlington youth. It has been in existence since 2006 and focuses on positive community change through education,
environmental initiatives, policy development and improving youth access to treatment. The Coalition is federally funded by a Drug Free Communities program grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.