Area police, fire departments using drug disposal bags to curb abuse


ACUSHNET, Mass. (WPRI) — In an effort to curb opioid abuse, the Acushnet Fire Department is distributing 20,000 drug disposal bags across Massachusetts to get unused and expired medicine out of people’s homes.

Acushnet Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher said the pouches can contain up to 45 pills, six patches or six fluid ounces of liquid medication.

“We have over 6,000 pouches already in circulation in the greater New Bedford area,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said the pouches de-activate the medication that is placed inside.

Here’s how the pouches work:

  • Place the medication inside the bag
  • Fill the bag half way with warm water
  • Seal the bag and shake it to de-activate the medication

Gallagher said the department is in the process of distributing the bags throughout Massachusetts free of charge.

The distribution of the bags is part of a wider initiatives to increase drug abuse awareness.

“We’ve asked many people who we’ve transported to the hospital over the years for overdoses, their addictions started because of the availability of medications in the home…” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said last week, 500 of the bags were distributed to the Somerset Police Department.

Somerset police chief George McNeil tells Eyewitness News that since they received them, their dispatchers have handed out bags daily.

“It seems pretty popular, there’s a lot of people interested in them,” McNeil said.

Outside the Acushnet Fire Department, a purple flag has been placed for each overdose they have responded to this year. Gallagher said he hopes to start more conversations about drug abuse in the community.

“We’ve been told that that is happening,” Gallagher said.

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