Volunteers from the New Opportunities Senior Companion Program are learning the best practices to dispose of needles used for patients who are prescribed opioids.
The Waterbury Health, Police, and Fire Departments hosted a seminar to teach those who work with elderly, disabled, and home hospice patients to properly dispose of needles, which they said in the worst-case scenario, end up in the wrong hands.
In an attempt to eliminate “drug diversion” in which needles are diverted or stolen from homes to be used for illicit or recreational use, contributes to the growing opioid epidemic, officials said.
Officials said that properly disposing of needles or unwanted, expired medication reduces the amount of illegal drug use in communities.
"Health professionals say that having opioids in the home is ‘like having a loaded gun in the house,’" said Director of Elder Services at New Opportunities, Mary-Kate Gill.
One of the biggest risks in the national opioid crisis is that pills are being stolen out of the homes of elderly from family, friends, or even caregivers.
Now the seniors can pass that information along.
"I'm extremely pleased that they're doing this because I've heard about all of these things, but to actually see it done, it's so easy to do and if you can save somebody's life, it’s so easy,” said Rose Neverisky of Newtown.
First responders say when dealing with overdoses it's not just drug addicts who are in their 20s or 30s. They stress it's all ages, all races.
In fact, in Waterbury, firefighters say the oldest person they had to administer Narcan on was 77, and they say seniors overdosing on prescribed medications is a concern.
"We do see a fair amount of overdose related to legitimate use, either by mistake, somebody takes too much of their medication, or we see someone who has a long-term illness and becomes drug dependent," said Adam Rinko, of the Waterbury Fire Department.
To make sure those pills don't fall into the wrong hands, the seniors learned that they can reach out the health department and members of Waterbury's police vice squad who will come out to their home to pick up any unwanted, and unused medication to make sure its disposed of properly.
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