Today is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day – a day that serves as a crucial reminder for communities across America to safely dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired prescription medications.

But why should we limit our drug disposal to just twice a year? With the right tools and resources, we can make safely disposing of unwanted medications easier and more practical than ever before.

First things first – it’s crucial to understand why we can’t just throw away medications or save them for a rainy day. Keeping unused prescription drugs at home can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the wrong hands. Our young people might accidentally or intentionally misuse them, which can serve as a gateway to even more dangerous drugs such as fentanyl. Tossing meds in the trash isn’t much better – they can still be found and misused or end up contaminating our environment.

Life can get busy, and those biannual Drug Take Back Days might not always fit into our schedules. Plus, let’s face it, we live in an instant gratification society. Packing up our medications and waiting in line at a collection site isn’t exactly a top priority on our to-do lists. But that’s where drug deactivation kits come in – they’re quick, easy, and available whenever you need them.

A drug deactivation kit. CT Prevention Partnership

The Governor’s Prevention Partnership has been working tirelessly to make drug disposal more accessible in Connecticut and we are pleased to announce a significant milestone for our state. The Partnership has secured a grant to distribute drug deactivation kits to the Greater Hartford and Greater New Haven areas.

This initiative will allow us to distribute thousands of these life-saving kits, empowering Connecticut residents to take control of their own homes and protect our young people from the dangers of prescription drug use. Connecticut legislators can partner with us to bring valuable prevention information and drug deactivation kits to your communities, fostering a safer environment for our youth and families.

These kits are super simple to use – easier than making your morning cereal! Just drop your unwanted prescription drugs (pills or liquid) into the bag, add tap water, and voilà, the kit deactivates the drugs. No waiting in line, no need to visit a collection site, and you can do it whenever you want. It’s the perfect solution for our busy, on-the-go lives.

But that’s not all. These drug deactivation kits also offer an environmentally friendly way to dispose of medications. Flushing drugs down the toilet or tossing them in the trash might seem easy, but it can lead to some nasty consequences. Meds that end up in our water systems can harm the environment and even contaminate our drinking water. By using these kits, we’re doing our part to protect our planet for future generations.

We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy for their help in securing this grant and their unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of Connecticut’s young people. Their support has been instrumental in making this initiative possible, and we are confident that it will have a lasting impact on our communities.

With drug overdose deaths on the rise across the nation, it’s more important than ever to ensure that every household has access to a drug deactivation kit. Senators Blumenthal and Murphy are making everyday drug disposal possible with the community project they funded in Greater Hartford and New Haven. The pouches will be widely available in the fall, but if you want to bring these pouches to your community earlier, simply reach out to me at Kelly@preventionworksct.org.

We must recognize the importance of partnerships and collaboration in addressing substance use. We encourage community leaders, law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers, and educators to join us in promoting the use of drug deactivation kits and educating the public about the dangers of improper drug disposal.

If you would like to participate in National Drug Take Back Day, visit this site to find a collection area near you.

Remember, the fight against substance use is not a one-day event; it’s an ongoing battle. Together, we can make a difference, one deactivation kit at a time. Making unwanted/unneeded prescription drugs inactive is the ultimate kind of prevention. By working hand in hand, we can create a safer, healthier, and more environmentally conscious Connecticut for our youth, families, and communities.

Kelly Juleson is a former State Representative, representing Manchester’s 12th District from 2015-2019. The Governor’s Prevention Partnership builds statewide capacity to prevent underage drinking and substance use and builds strategic alliances to promote the overall well-being of Connecticut’s future workforce.