Spring Cleaning: Don’t Forget The Medicine Cabinet

Wow, this was one heck of a winter, eh?  Well it is finally behind us.  That means it’s time to put on our work gloves, get out the brooms and get to some spring cleaning.  But, while we’re taking care of cobwebs in the kitchen and rounding up the junk in the garage, we should also remember to take care of the medicine cabinet.

Next Saturday from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Mainers have the opportunity to take their expired, unused, and unwanted medications to their local Drug Take Back site.  The US Drug Enforcement Administration had been coordinating the National Drug Take Back Initiatives since 2010.  As they’ve been successful in pushing through some rule changes expanding authority for entities that can collect unused controlled substances, they’ve ended their coordination of the events.  Starting this April, the Maine Sheriffs Association has stepped to the plate to continue the coordination of Drug Take Backs in Maine.

1479165_10152397288873404_6923806786118038161_nYou can get a full listing of the Drug Take Back locations in Maine at the MSA’s website.  My team at Healthy Androscoggin has been leading the drug take back efforts in the Lewiston/Auburn area since 2009.  In fact, I must say that the drug take backs are easily my favorite program in my role as a substance abuse prevention specialist.  We have a great operation in L/A with 40 volunteers working at two sites to make the event happen.  My wife even gets in on the act and volunteers with us at our Lewiston site.  The community really comes together and everyone really enjoys pitching in.  The residents are always very happy and appreciative to have this service where they can get these medicines that are piling up out of their homes.  I always enjoy working with Moe Paradis who you see pictured above.  He’s a retired pharmacist from Lewiston who volunteers with us every Take Back.  Full of energy and always great stories to tell.

Why Drug Take Backs are Important

10270822_10152761287248404_5835046628386283325_nPrescription medicines in the home are the most common source of drugs for those youth and adults who abuse them.  In fact, data shows that most teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend or relative, often stealing them without them knowing.  The medicine take backs are an excellent service, available twice a year all throughout Maine, to help address this issue.

Many communities have also added permanent drug collection boxes, often in police departments or town halls.  My coalition purchased 5 of these boxes and they are located throughout Androscoggin County.  If you aren’t sure whether or not there is a permanent drug collection box in your community, check with your local law enforcement department or your local Healthy Maine Partnership.

So, if you are doing some spring cleaning this weekend.  Make a point to take a few minutes to go through your medicine cabinet, and gather up any expired or unwanted medicines.  Then mark your calendar for Saturday, April 25th and visit your local Drug Take Back site to safely dispose of those medicines.  Your home will be safer and you will be helping to prevent substance abuse.

Enjoy the weekend!


Scott M. Gagnon, MPP, PS-C

About Scott M. Gagnon, MPP, PS-C

Scott M. Gagnon, MPP, PS-C is a Certified Prevention Specialist and is the Director of Operations at AdCare Educational Institute of Maine, Inc. He currently serves on the Maine Substance Abuse Services Commission as well as the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention National Advisory Council. Scott volunteers as the Chair of the marijuana policy education and advocacy group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Maine and is the current Board President of the Maine Council on Problem Gambling. Scott also serves as a Co-chair of the Prevention & Harm Reduction task force of the Maine Opiate Collaborative, the effort convened by U.S. Attorney Thomas E Delahanty, II to address Maine's growing opiate and addiction crisis. Scott is the recipient of the 2015 Maine Public Health Association's Ruth S. Shaper Memorial Award and 2015 Healthy Androscoggin Will Bartlett Award and is also the 2013 recipient of the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse Prevention Award.