Guest Column By Senator Patrick Leahy: Another Successful Vermont Drug Take Back Day

Another Successful Vermont Drug Take Back Day
by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy

On October 26, police agencies around Vermont took part in a program that allowed Vermonters to dispose of their prescription drugs, no questions asked, at safe disposal sites in every county of the state.  In just one day, Vermonters turned in 3,429 pounds of unused prescription drugs at 57 collection sites, taking thousands of dangerous pills out of circulation.  They include leftover painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin that could have been targets for theft and resale, fueling the addictions of our teenagers and young adults.  Unused drugs when flushed away also pollute water supplies.

These impressive results would not have been possible without the cooperation of local and county law enforcement agencies, working closely with Vermont State Police and their federal counterparts at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In Chittenden County alone, we saw 1,188 pounds of drugs turned in at 13 different sites, including 93 pounds collected at the Vermont National Guard.  Bennington County officials collected 367 pounds of pills; Franklin County, 292 pounds; Windsor County, 228; Rutland County, 226 pounds, and the list goes on.  Combined with a similar Take Back Day last April, these efforts have removed 5,822 pounds of pills from potential circulation this year alone.  It’s so effective that some police stations are now offering to take back drugs any day of the year, not just on chosen dates.

Our small state suffers from a big addiction problem.  We hear this from law enforcers, addiction specialists, courts and health departments in every corner of Vermont.  Filmmaker Bess O’Brien is currently touring the state to show the toll of such addiction in her touching documentary, “The Hungry Heart,” based on the experience of a St. Albans pediatrician treating dozens of young addicts.

Thanks and congratulations to all involved -- particularly our law enforcement agencies -- for their time and effort in working to make Vermont a safer place.  Taking these drugs out of circulation puts a dent in a dangerous black market.

To learn more about these efforts and how you can help, please visit the Vermont State Police website at http://vsp.vermont.gov/drugdiversion.

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