© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Charlottetown Const. Rick Kennedy says most of these prescription drugs were turned into city police during Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day on Saturday. While some of the more innocent items dropped off included nasal sprays and vitamins, police also received a large amount of addictive narcotics.
Thousands of dollars' worth of narcotics may have been prevented from eventually hitting Island streets during a successful national Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day over the weekend.
Pharmacists and police agencies throughout the province and country participated in the second annual drop-off day, which brings a focus to the dangers of keeping excess medication beyond its useful purpose.
In Charlottetown alone, police saw everything turned in, from multi-vitamins and nasal sprays to more serious and addictive narcotics.
Some of the painkillers, which have high value on the street, included OxyContin, hydromorphone and morphine tablets.
"It (pain medication) is good for the people that need it. Some people actually take out what they need and when they're done, they don't want anything else to do with it," said Const. Rick Kennedy. "So they get rid of it, and good on them for doing that."
Another common drug received Saturday was Ritalin, which is often prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Kennedy said it's not uncommon to see university students buying Ritalin from those with a prescription, especially during exams.
"There are kids out there that actually sell their Ritalin," he said. "It's a stimulant (for those who aren't diagnosed with ADHD)."
In an interview leading up to the drop-off day, Summerside Det. Joe Peters said there is a direct correlation between prescription drug abuse and criminal activity, with the day helping reduce the number of those drugs in communities.
"We're always concerned with incidents where we have residential break-ins, where drugs are stolen," said Peters.
Preventing narcotics from hitting the streets wasn't the only purpose behind Saturday's drop-off.
The chemical composition of a drug can deteriorate in quality over time, while Kennedy also pointed to environmental concerns.
"Imagine if all this was flushed so it ended up in the harbour or treatment plant," he said. "Some of it will break down but some of it won't, so we'll take it and dispose of it properly."
While the national event lasts only one day, drug disposal continues all year with most pharmacies and police agencies willing to accept old prescriptions at any time.
Kennedy said there is always a box at the Charlottetown Police Services headquarters on Kirkwood Drive where anyone can drop off old prescriptions