FPPD to Conduct ‘Operation Medicine Chest’

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Residents can surrender unused prescription meds This Saturday

While many families will be spending the weekend celebrating Halloween, the Floral Park Police Department is also encouraging residents and parents of teenage children to clean out their medicine cabinets and surrender old or unused prescription medications in an effort to keep them out of the hands of local youth.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, the Floral Park Police Department will partner with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in its third successful National Take Back Initiative, entitled “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.

Floral Park Police Commissioner Stephen McAllister says this is third time the department has offered the program at police headquarters. “It’s an anonymous program. People are encouraged to clean out any old prescription medications that have gone unused, especially the highly desirable ones like Xanax, Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin,” McAllister said.

According to McAllister, operations like these are designed to take unused prescription medications and drugs out of circulation from young or teenaged children, ranging in age from 15 to 21. “What happens is, we’re finding that they’re going over grandma and grandpa’s house or Uncle Joe or Aunt Betty’s house and they’re borrowing some of their medications unknown to them,” he explained.

“We’re in a cycle where it’s socially acceptable to have these pill parties where you come with your batch and I come with my batch and we throw them on the table,” he added.

While the Floral Park Police Department has made several key arrests in lessening the supply of illegal prescription drugs on the streets, McAllister maintained that the problem has not been completely eliminated. “These kids have access to other means other than illicit (drugs), they can take it from their parents unused medication that’s why there’s an importance placed on this program,” he said.

McAllister maintained that while the prescription pills are owned legally, they must be disposed of properly or they could taint the water supply. “We don’t want them being flushed down into the toilet or the garbage because they’ll leech into our water systems,” he said.

The DEA states on its website that 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.”

In an effort to address this issue, the 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 and on, April 25, 2011. There were approximately 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation that participated in the event collecting more than 309 tons of pills, according to the DEA website.

According to the DEA, four days after last fall’s Take-Back Day, Congress passed legislation amending the Controlled Substances Act to allow the DEA to develop a process for people to safely dispose of their prescription drugs. “The DEA immediately began developing this process after President Obama signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 on October 12.  Until that process is complete, however, DEA will continue to hold Take Back Days every six months,” according to the DEA website.

Residents can drop off unused prescription drugs and medications on Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 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. For more information, visit the website at www.justice.gov/dea/.

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