TAKING CONTROL: Ryle, at right, with Shannon Lundin, community outreach coordinator from the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition. Below, a Turn It Around Campaign poster.
Three large boxes filled with unused and expired prescriptions, including 30 bottles of controlled substances, were recently removed from Charlestown following the Take Back prescription drug disposal day on June 15. The Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC), supported by the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement, organized the community’s fourth annual event to bring awareness to the dangers of prescription drug abuse and the lack of proper drug disposal.
Karen M. Ryle, MS, RPh, associate chief of MGH Pharmacy for Ambulatory Care, oversaw the process. “Take Back events are important because they make sure unused drugs are disposed of in a safe and timely manner,” Ryle said. “Throwing used medications down the toilet or into the trash is not a safe environmental disposal method.” Residents who dropped off their unused prescriptions received a $5 gift card from a local merchant.
This year’s event was held in conjunction with Turn It Around, a new social marketing campaign sponsored by CSAC that targets teens and prescription drug abuse. The campaign incorporates insights from the coalition’s youth group featuring messages directed at teens who use or consider using prescription drugs due to stress and depression, social pressure, family issues and feelings of wanting to escape. CSAC’s youth group mounted posters throughout the neighborhood and distributed T-shirts, stickers and buttons with positive messages aimed at youth who want to avoid or stop prescription drug abuse. Plans are underway for the campaign to appear on area subway and bus shelter signs.
In addition, the Turn It Around campaign has created forums on social media outlets Facebook www.facebook.com/TurnItAroundCharlestown and Twitter @turnitaroundctn where teens can share their feelings, address their stressors in healthy ways, and receive information about helpful community resources to overcome prescription abuse or addiction. A resource handout also is available in pediatricians’ offices and at the MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center.