By Rob Glidden
The Southington Police Department is now the location of a permanent medication drop box, a longtime goal of town officials and several community organizations.
The box allows residents to safely dispose of expired or unneeded medication anonymously and at no cost.
“This is a one-way mailbox,” said Town Council Chairman John Dobbins. “Medications dropped here are treated as abandoned property. They are not looked at or investigated.”
Dobbins, who is a pharmacist, has been a longtime advocate of providing venues for medication disposal. While serving on the Board of Water Commissioners, he and the rest of the board hosted an annual event that invited the community to drop off medication they had no use for.
Steve Pestillo, another former Water Commissioner who is now Chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners, said the drop box had the potential to help the community in several ways.
“The original idea was to take the medication and keep it out of the water supply,” Pestillo said. “I also had my eyes opened to how important it is to keep medication out of the hands of kids.”
The Southington Town-Wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS) has expressed concern about the amount of prescription drug abuse among teenagers in Southington and elsewhere and worked to make the drop box possible. Wheeler Clinic of Plainville, a frequent partner of STEPS, financed the cost of bringing the box into town. The Plainville Police Department has also recently introduced a permanent medication drop box.
“We want to build on this program and make the community aware of how unattended drugs can be dangerous,” said Mihaela Fodor, an assistant program manger at Wheeler Clinic.
Water Commissioner Greg Klimaszewski, of Augustine Builders in Southington, installed the box as a gift to the community, while Covanta Energy will dispose of the discarded medication, also at no cost to the town.
The box is intended for prescription medications, over the counter drugs, medication samples, pet medication, liquid medication in sealed containers, medicated ointments and lotions, inhalers, narcotics and vitamins. It is not meant for personal care products, needles and syringes, thermometers, IV bags, infectious waste, hydrogen peroxide containers or aerosol cans.
STEPS plans to raise awareness of the box and its ramifications for the community within the next few weeks.
“We’re really happy because once a year isn’t enough,” said STEPS Coordinator Kelly Leppard. “We want people to drop them off on an ongoing basis.”