Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Patricia Logue, has said eight new drug drop bins across Derry and Strabane must form part of a two-pronged approach to tackling addiction in communities.
Colr. Logue, who called for the delivery of disposal points in March after it was revealed 5,000 tablets had been deposited in just one bin in Belfast in a single fortnight, said such an initiative will work in Derry.
“It is quite staggering that across the North unused prescriptions medicines cost the health services an estimated £18 million per year.
“Since then I have spoken to many people who have said one of the biggest problems people have is the disposing of unused prescription and non prescription drugs safely and discreetly.
"We know how easy it is to have an old box of medication at the back of the drawer or press, in some cases unused items from prescriptions can accumulate very quickly.”
It was announced this week that eight bins were being put in place at the Bishop Street Community Centre, the Old Library Trust, the Gasyard Centre, Hamilton’s Spar in Castlederg, McKenna’s Spar in Sion Mills, Northside Shopping Centre, the Shantallow Community Residents Association and the HURT offices on Clarendon Street.
The roll-out is part of the RAPID (Remove All Prescription and Illegal Drugs) campaign, a joint initiative between the DC&SDC Policing and Community Safety Partnership, the PSNI, the Public Health Agency (PHA) a nd the Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team Connections Service.
The Mayor, Colr. John Boyle, said: “I would like to congratulate the community and statutory agencies who have worked closely to roll this project out across our Council area and I hope the scheme will help protect the public from the dangers or misusing prescription, illegal and new psychoactive substances.”
Denise McCallion, of the PHA, said: “All of the partners are keen that the RAPID initiative is further developed and expanded over coming years with further bins installed, enabling more people and communities to learn more about the risks and dangers of drug misuse and to dispose of unwanted drugs easily and discreetly.”
Colr. Logue concurred and said investing in people was key to tackling addiction.
“We also need investment to support people, in a safe environment, to discuss their dependencies, we need educational programmes to highlight the dangers of drugs and alcohol misuse and we need services to signpost people to in their local communities.”