Now is the time for residents to take stock of their medicine cabinet to prevent the misuse or theft of prescription drugs and to properly dispose of unused or expired medications at the fourth national “Take Back” drug event set for September 29.
One compelling reason to do this is a recent announcement from the Centers for Disease Control that states: “Deaths caused by drugs have now topped traffic-related deaths. The rise in drug-related deaths is due in large part to an increase in overdoses from prescription drugs. This is the first time drugs have cause more deaths than motor vehicles since the government started tracking drug-related deaths in 1979.”
Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners. In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills.
Delaware County Council and District Attorney Jack Whelan are teaming up with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), County municipalities and eight of the County’s police departments to give local residents a safe place to dispose of their unused, unwanted and outdated prescription medications.
The “Take Back” initiative is a nationwide campaign that aims to collect potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs and properly dispose of them. The program is free, anonymous and will take place 10 a.m.-2 p.m. September 29 at eight Delaware County collection sites.
Participation in this event will help reduce the supply of prescription drugs available to those who might otherwise try to steal, abuse or sell them. Despite being safe when used by a patient as prescribed, misused or abused prescription drugs can be just as deadly as common street drugs.
“The ‘Take Back’ initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” said County Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle. “Many people are not aware that medicines that sit in home cabinets are at a high risk for misuse and abuse. And their misuse can be deadly.”
Chairman McGarrigle was joined in announcing the fourth “Take Back” event by District Attorney Jack Whelan, County Senior Medical Advisor Dr. George Avetian, members of the Intercommunity Health Department and the Office of Behavioral Health, along with several representatives from the law enforcement community.
The first “Take Back” event was held in September, 2010. According to DEA records, Delaware County collected 277.4 pounds of drugs. The second “Take Back” event was held in April, 2011 and collected over 900 pounds of drugs!
Nationwide, 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies participated in these events, collecting and destroying more than 309 tons of pills.
Prescription Drug Disposal: Studies indicate that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet. Experts warn that parents may not notice that their teenagers, family members or visitors may be sneaking pills out of outdated prescription bottles. Younger children may be at risk for accidental ingestion.
People can reduce the risk by reducing the medicine cabinet to only current, unexpired medications, over-the-counter or otherwise. They can also keep medications in locked containers.
At the “Take Back” event, collection sites will anonymously accept both prescription and over-the-counter products that are solid in nature (tablets or capsules) with no questions asked. However, any intravenous solutions, injectables, needles, or illegal substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine will not be accepted. This effort is specifically for prescription and over-the-counter medications only.
McGarrigle said many residents do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away, both potential safety and health hazards. The prescription drugs collected at the event will be burned at an undisclosed location by DEA officials.
People can also ask their physician or pharmacist how to dispose of unused prescription medications.
The Delaware County Office of Behavioral Health contracts with Holcomb Behavioral Systems to offer drug prevention and education programs. For information about the “Take Back” prescription drug event on Spetember 29, people can call Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems at 484-444-0412 or visit the website at www.holcombprevention.org. Residents concerned about a loved one’s misuse of prescription medication or other substance abuse can contact Holcomb.
For more information about the nationwide “Take Back” event visit www.dea.gov. Click on the “Got Drugs?” icon, follow the links to the database, and enter a zip code to find the nearest drop-off location. People can also get information on the County website at www.co.delaware.pa.us.
Participating “Take Back” sites in Delaware County on September 29 include:
- Aldan Municipal Building: 1 West Providence Rd., Aldan, PA 19018
- Glenolden Police Department: 38 Boon Ave., Glenolden, PA 19036
- Marple Township Police Department at the Giant, 2910 Springfield Road, Broomall, PA 19008
- Media Borough Police Department: 301 N Jackson St., Media PA 19063
- Nether Providence Police Station: 214 Sykes Lane, Wallingford, PA 19086
- Sharon Hill Police Department: 1110 Spring Street., Sharon Hill, PA 19079
- Springfield Township Building: 50 Powell Road, Springfield, PA 19064
- Upper Darby High School: 601 Lansdowne Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA 19026