THUNDER BAY - In an effort to keep medication out of the wrong hands and out of the water table, a local clinic is offering an opportunity for people to dispose of unwanted drugs, no questions asked.
For the first time, the NorWest Community Health Centre, along with Superior North EMS, Superior Points, Thunder Bay Police Service, and Janzen’s Pharmacy will be holding a Drug Amnesty day on Aug. 30 at the clinic on Simpson Street.
“The idea is that many of us have medicine cabinets that have things in them that we are not still taking or that are expired and it’s really easy for them to get into the wrong hands or for people to flush them down the toilet,” said Michelle Kolobutin, health promotor at NorWest Community Health Centre.
People are welcomed to bring in expired prescription and over the counter medications, cold and flu medicine, cough syrup, vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as illicit drugs or drug paraphernalia.
“We want to dispose of them safely,” Kolobutin said. “We are encouraging everyone to bring that to us in confidence. There are no questions asked about why you have this or how much of it you have. We just want people to bring it to us to dispose of safely.”
According to Kolobutin, drugs need to be disposed of properly because they take a long time to break down and if they are flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage, they can leach into the soil or water table.
Another significant concern is medication ending up in the hands of someone it is not meant for or someone who no longer needs to be taking it.
“People who shouldn’t take them end up taking them because they are available to them,” Kolobutin said.
Drug Amnesty Day will be taking place one day before Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31. Kolobutin said it is important to get the message out to the community that overdoses can happen anywhere and to anyone.
“In Thunder Bay, in 2017, we had 26 overdose and three suspected overdoses,” she said. “The idea around this is to really make people aware about overdose. Overdoes is not something that just happens at the street level. There are pills everywhere, there are pills in everyone’s house.”
Drug Amnesty Day will be held on Thursday, Aug. 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the NorWest Community Health Centre at 525 Simpson Street in the Shoemaker’s Garden. If you are not able to attend the Amnesty, pharmacies will accept medication for disposal, but not drug paraphernalia.
“We really want to try and get those medicine cabinets cleaned out and to let the community know that you don’t need to be someone using street drugs to overdose,” Kolobutin said. “You can overdose on prescribed medication as well.”