Preventing addiction by going door to door for unwanted medications: Washington Goes Purple holds drug take-back walk


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Expired or even unwanted medication could put people at risk for drug addiction.

In western Maryland, Washington Goes Purple, which is addiction prevention and awareness organization, went door to door alongside members of the Hagerstown Police and Fire departments for their first drug take-back walk since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organizations collected excess medications as well as needles and diabetic syringes. Vicki Sterling, co-chair of Washington Goes Purple as well as the Director of Behavioral Health at the Washington County Health Department, explains that excess or expired medications left unattended in a home could put individuals at a higher risk of taking medications that are not intended for them. She says this could be a potential gateway to addiction.

“We do know that individuals who use opioids started with a pill, so it could mean preventing addiction getting rid of the medication,” Sterling explained. “It’s not uncommon for youth to go through their parents’ medicine cabinets and see what they have and experiment so by getting rid of those medications we decrease the risk of that.”

The drug take-back walk helps not only Washington Goes Purple but also the Hagerstown Police Department to educate community members about the risks of addiction and where to dispose of their unwanted medications.

Yessena Duckworth took the opportunity to dispose of unused medication during the drug take-back walk. She was already planning to dispose of the medicine as it had expired but was waiting until she had time to do so.

“It’s really great especially for people who don’t really know what to do with it,[their unwanted or expired medication], or it just ends up sitting or maybe, unfortunately, will get thrown away in the regular trash which isn’t great,” Duckworth said.

Diana Rowland was also already planning on disposing of her unwanted medications. She said she is grateful for the drug take-back walk as it provided her a convenient way of removing the excess medication from her home.

“I just was saving old medicine and vitamins, and I figured I was gonna drop them off down at the police headquarters, but I hadn’t got down there yet,” Rowland said. “I don’t have any young kids anymore. But just making sure nobody get them into the wrong hands.”

Any unwanted or expired medications can be discarded in the drug take-back boxes located at the Hagerstown Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Syringes or other needles can’t be put in the take-back boxes for safety reasons. However, they can be collected at the Hagerstown Police Department.

For more information and other resources from Washington Goes Purple, please visit their website.

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