Got Drugs?

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FPPD to Partner With DEA in

National Take Back Initiative on April 30

‘Got drugs?’ is the slogan being used by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to encourage citizens to surrender old or unused prescription medications in an effort to keep them out of medicine cabinets and, more importantly, out of the hands of local youth.

On April 30, the Floral Park Police Department will partner with the DEA in the National Take Back Initiative, aptly titled “Operation Medicine Chest,” whereby citizens can anonymously surrender and dispose of any and all prescription medications that may be laying about their homes, thereby removing a potential threat to young adults in the community.

According to the DEA, the take-back initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. “More than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet, the DEA states.”

In an effort to address this problem, DEA, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, conducted the first ever National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010. The purpose of this National Take Back Day was to provide a venue for persons who wanted to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs. There were approximately 3,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation that participated in the event.  All told, the American Public turned in more than 121 tons of pills on this first National Take Back Day, according to the DEA.

Floral Park Police Commissioner Stephen McAllister, a former narcotics sergeant, says he has seen firsthand the debilitating effects of narcotics abuse on communities. “This is the typical story. You hurt your back; you go to the doctor. He prescribes something for your back for pain management. You have a month’s supply and you take four days worth and you have three weeks left and it sits in a bottle in your chest and you never give it too much thought and it’s very tempting to the [young adult] demographic,” McAllister explained.

McAllister indicated that of the prescription medications on the market, Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin and Xanax appear to be the most abused by youth ranging in age of 15 to 21. “It’s a real problem and it’s getting worse…Unfortunately, these kids know it’s popular. It’s socially acceptable to be dropping these. They have pill parties and all sorts of things. They are drinking it with beer, which exacerbates the effects. I don’t want a bunch of kids going to emergency rooms,” McAllister said, adding that many of these drugs are highly addictive.

Thanks to an outpouring of support from the local community, last year’s take-back initiative met with great success. This year, McAllister hopes even more residents will come out to participate in this important program. “We see a lot of pill usage throughout our village. This is one step in addressing it,” he said.

Residents can drop off drugs and medications on April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Floral Park Police Headquarters, 1 Floral Blvd. A DEA agent will be on hand in the lobby to receive the collections, which are completely anonymous. To find a collection site near you or for more information, visit www.justice.gov/dea/index.htm.

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