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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Nashua Prevention Coalition promotes locking drugs away

NASHUA – The Nashua Prevention Coalition kicked off a new campaign to
encourage people to lock up dangerous prescription medications by screening a public service announcement created by a pair of high school seniors.

Coalition Director Janet Valuk said locking up
prescription medications is more important than ever as the rate of prescription drug abuse skyrockets across the state and country. ...

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NASHUA – The Nashua Prevention Coalition kicked off a new campaign to
encourage people to lock up dangerous prescription medications by screening a public service announcement created by a pair of high school seniors.

Coalition Director Janet Valuk said locking up
prescription medications is more important than ever as the rate of prescription drug abuse skyrockets across the state and country.

“We want this to be the new normal,” Valuk said.

Valuk said she hopes the prescription lock boxes available at Walgreens will be as common a purchase for parents as a helmet is when they buy their child a new bike.

The coalition held an event Wednesday targeting senior citizens, and included the debut of a student-made PSA created by Nashua High School South seniors Zach Peterson and Colleen Morrissey. Valuk used to teach health education at the school, and tapped Peterson and Morrissey to create a visual element for the Lock It Up campaign.

The video shows the reflection of a senior citizen opening a medicine cabinet, then the reflection of student actors closing the cabinet with a pill bottle in hand.

Walgreens donated several lock boxes to the coalition’s event. The boxes look like typical first-aid kits: white, plastic and about the size of a small briefcase. The boxes range in size and resilience up to heavy-duty metal boxes.

Parents and grandparents generally trust family members, but Valuk said it’s clear more care needs to be taken with prescription medications.

“We can’t be naive,” she said. “We have to be sure that our children … don’t have access.

“This is a problem that affects all of us. We’re asking you to be proactive with your medications.”

Coalition coordinator Monica Gallant said disposing of expired or unused medications is also important, including not flushing them down the drain. She recommended putting pills into baggies mixed with cat litter or used coffee grounds and throwing them in the trash, or visiting one of several police departments with drop boxes specifically for prescription medications.

Police stations in Amherst, Hudson and Merrimack have the boxes, and Nashua police are expected to install one soon, she said.

Bud Fitch, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s state director, said prescription drug abuse is becoming all too common in the state and leading to more heroin addicts – and heroin-related deaths.

“The abuse of prescription drugs is too prevalent in Nashua and across New Hampshire,” he said. “The path to heroin starts with use and abuse of prescription pain medication. There’s a simple, important, easy thing to do, and that’s lock up prescription drugs at home.”

Tina Forbes can be reached at
594-6402 or tforbes@nashua
telegraph.com.