Over eighteen months, the Upper Bucks Healthy Communities Healthy Youth Coalition (UBHCHY) has participated in prescription drug take back days that have been sponsored nationally by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and locally most notably by the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. Ray Fox, UBHCHY past chair and current member, presented this idea to our countywide coalition, Bucks Promise, after returning from the 2010 national Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) conference. The Bucks Promise Coalition is now a primary sponsor of these semi-annual events. In Upper Bucks the following police departments have been involved by staffing and supplying the drop off sites for citizens to dispose of unused or expired drugs: Richland Township, Quakertown Borough, Springfield Township, Pennridge Regional, Dublin Borough, Hilltown Township and Perkasie Police Departments. There has been outstanding collaboration between all of the youth development coalitions in Bucks County, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, the County Commissioners, local Pharmacies, the Bucks County Area Office on Aging and local police departments. Over the last three events we have collected over 4 tons of drugs in Bucks County! This amount is more than any other county in the state of PA and is significantly more than any other similar area in the country.
The main idea of these events is to get prescription drugs off of the streets and out of the hands of people who would use them illegally. Also, there is a concern for the environment because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that excessive chemicals are found in ground water all of the time. Too many people still believe the way to get rid of drugs is to flush them down the toilet. According to our own local youth survey, 12% of Upper Bucks high school seniors have illegally used prescription medications in the prior 30 day period. Over 70% of them obtain these drugs from family or friends. These drugs that are found in our medicine cabinets. Of special concern are the drugs that are used as pain killers.
In 2011, the UBHCHY Coalition began asking police departments to house their own permanent Drug Take Back boxes in their stations. Since Quakertown Borough became the first department in Bucks County to place a permanent box in their lobby, (followed by Richland Township, Springfield Township and Pennridge Regional), fourteen other departments in the county have followed suit. The idea is that anyone can confidentially drop off drugs to these boxes during the hours of operation where the police department is located.
The next Drug Take Back day is scheduled for 10:00-2:00 on Saturday April 28. All of the police departments listed above are participating in this event. Drugs can be dropped off at their locations. Free information is handed out and a very brief exit survey is part of the program.