Commentary: Remember: Don’t Trash Your Stash

Megan Albanese, STEPS Coalition outreach manager

In October, the STEPS Coalition received a second round of grant funding through the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). The State Targeted Response (STR) to the opioid epidemic provided funds to educate the community on the dangers of opioids. With some of this funding, the STEPS youth council prescription medication work group encouraged Southington residents to, “Don’t Trash Your Stash!”

The initiative began with the youth council group brain storming new ways to promote our permanent medication drop box, located at the Southington Police Department, 69 Lazy Lane. The students coined the phrase, “Don’t Trash Your Stash,” as a way to educate our community that throwing medication in the garbage could be dangerous and should instead be disposed of properly.

To further our prevention work with the business sector, the Youth Council members reached out to Jack Perry from HQ Dumpsters & Recycling, LLC. The students invited Jack to a youth council meeting where they presented their ideas and the “Don’t Trash Your Stash” campaign. Impressed with the youth, Jack graciously offered to display the slogan, graphic and STEPS logo on the two new HQ Dumpster & Recycling garbage trucks. A truck unveiling was held at the Southington Police Department. Community members were invited to come see the new trucks and hear more about this youth led campaign.

A very big thank you to Jack Perry and HQ Dumpster & Recycling, LLC for their involvement with the coalition and efforts to do their part in making prevention a priority. Also, thank you to the Southington Observer for sending a reporter and putting our youth council students on the front page.

To date, over 7,000 pounds of medication have been collected and disposed of. Thank you to the Southington Police Department for their continued partnership with the permanent medication drop box and keeping prevention a priority here in Southington. When Southington residents use the medication drop box, they are helping to keep medicine out of the wrong hands and out of our water system.

In addition to the “Don’t Trash Your Stash” campaign, the STEPS Coalition was able to provide two naloxone trainings for the Southington community, a grant funding requirement. With these funds, close to 100 Southington residents were able to learn about the struggles of addiction, the effects of addiction on the brain and how to administer naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose.

If any community residents are in need of naloxone or would like more information, please contact me. For more information on the STEPS Coalition and to get involved with our prevention efforts, please visit our website www.SouthingtonSTEPS.org.

Megan Albanese is the Southington STEPS Coalition outreach coordinator. She can be reached at (860) 276-6281 or albanesem@southington.org.

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