NORTH READING The North Reading Police and North Reading Community Impact Team’s Youth Substance Use Prevention Coalition are again partnering with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in urging residents to safely dispose of unused and outdated prescription medication.

Rx Take Back Day will be held on Saturday, October 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the O’Leary Senior Center’s front parking lot at 157 Park St.

“Over the past several years, we’ve collected 1,932 pounds of unused drugs,” explained Police Chief Michael Murphy. “That’s a significant reduction in accessible drugs in the home.”

The service is free and anonymous.

To maintain safety, residents are required to wear masks and remain in their vehicles. Signs will direct cars to enter one way, drop off their unused medications directly into bins, and exit as directed under the guidance of NRPD officers.

Residents who are concerned about leaving their homes also have another option. The Community Impact Team (CIT) is offering free drug deactivation bags. These bags contain chemicals to render drugs inactive and are suitable for pills, patches and liquid medications. The seal-able bags can then be disposed of safely in the trash.

“Flushing drugs down the toilet causes damage to the environment and water systems. We want to make sure these drugs are getting out of homes safely,” explained Drug-Free Director Amy Luckiewicz. “The seal-able bags are a great solution for people who can’t get to the Rx Take Back Day.”

Chief Murphy acknowledged the concerns about holding an in-person event, but highlighted the success of last April’s Rx Take Back Day. He explained, “Last April we held a similar drive-through option that yielded 220 pounds of unused drugs. Everyone stayed in their cars and we think this system works. We’ll be providing plenty of space to maintain social distancing at the event, and we’re asking everyone to wear a mask. However, if you still don’t feel comfortable, please remember that our drug drop-off kiosk will be available 24/7 in the police lobby before and after the October 23 Take Back Day or please take advantage of the deactivation bags.”

Deactivation bags can be delivered to all Meals on Wheels clients, in partnership with the O’Leary Senior Center. They are also available at the North Reading Food Pantry and can be delivered to home mailboxes upon request. To receive a free drug deactivation bag, contact Amy Luckiewicz at [email protected] or call 978-357-5054.