The Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force today hosted a Drug Reclamation Forum, where ideas were exchanged among various municipalities on how best to rid our streets and our medicine cabinets of potentially harmful prescription drugs.
The Nassau County Health Department hosted the 2-hour long roundtable discussion, in partnership with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and District Attorney Kathleen Rice publicly announced the second such forum earlier this week.
Drug reclamation events provide community members with a safe venue for turning in unused or expired painkillers and other pharmaceutical medication so they don’t wind up in the hands of children. Statistics show that most young people who went on to abuse prescription drugs got them from someone they know. Experts also found that abuse of prescription drugs is often the gateway to Heroin use.
Nassau County has been at the forefront of efforts to curb the abuse of these and other drugs through education, prevention and treatment. Ridding homes of these meds is a big part of the battle and the Nassau County Police Department partners with many municipalities and other entities to hold regular “shed the med” events.
Soon, there will be medication “drop boxes” at all Nassau police precincts, which are open and manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents can drop off the drugs, anonymously and the collected meds are inventoried and destroyed.
The groups in attendance at today’s forum included representatives from the Garden City, Kings Point, Long Beach and Hempstead Village police departments, various treatment providers from Nassau and Suffolk, several Nassau pharmacists and one local school district official. Each spoke about their agency’s recent and upcoming activities as well as solutions to problems in these areas, that they were able to overcome.
Officials with the U.S. DEA gave a presentation on their drug reclamation efforts, including their 2nd Annual National Take Back Initiative, where they will partner with various institutions to set up drop-off venues all across the country. They expect to collect tens of thousands of pounds of unwanted prescription drugs at the Oct. 29 event.
“They don’t belong in our medicine cabinets,” County Executive Mangano said of the prescription drugs. “They need to be disposed of regularly and properly so they don’t wind up in the wrong hands. I urge residents to participate in Nassau County’s Drug Disposal Programs to dispose of their unwanted, unused and/or expired medication.”
Misuse of pharmaceutical drugs is already a very serious problem, the DEA agents said. Over 7 million Americans are currently abusing prescription drugs, and 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time. Agents have arrested several doctors and pharmacists across the Island in recent months and charged them with various “drug-trafficking” and illegal distribution related crimes.
“We have a health crisis on our hands as prescription drug abuse in Nassau County and throughout Long Island has reached epidemic levels,” said Mangano.
The Heroin Prevention Task Force, which held its first Drug Reclamation forum in March, is working on a list of safety tips for pharmacists that they hope to distribute before the end of the year.
Visit www.heroinprevention.com to find out when the next drug reclamation event is planned for your neighborhood.