More than 100 pounds of prescription drugs collected at ‘drug take-back’ day

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The Riverhead Police Department collected more than 100 pounds of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications during a “drug take-back” day Saturday.

Organizers with the Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth set up a “drive-through” at Tanger Outlet this weekend to offer a convenient way for residents to dispose of unused medications. In total, police recovered 107 pounds of drugs on Saturday.

This brings the total number of drugs collected to 822 pounds since the permanent drop box was installed at the Riverhead Police Department in August 2014, according to Officer Rick Anderson, who is in charge of property and evidence and maintains the collection log.  

“This was once again a very successful take-back event,” said Kelly Miloski, community prevention specialist for the Riverhead Community Awareness Program. “We were able to remove these drugs from the community and raise awareness about the permanent drug drop box located in the lobby of the police department.”

Many residents are still unaware that there is a permanent drop box available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the Riverhead Police Department, she added.

The Riverhead Youth Coalition assisted with Saturday’s logistics and Town Supervisor Sean Walter, Councilman John Dunleavy and Thomas Neppell, legislative aide for Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, also participated in Saturday’s event.

“By reducing access to prescription drugs in our community, we have successfully reduced narcotics abuse among 12th grade students from 7.5% in 2008 to 2.1% in 2014,” said Felicia Scocozza, executive director of Riverhead Community Awareness Program, in a Monday press release.

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Teens now abuse prescription drugs more than cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamine combined,” the CAP press release stated.

About 51 percent of drug-overdose deaths in 2013 came from prescription medications rather than from illegal substances, according to the CDC.

Also in 2013 — the most recent year data is available — prescription drug overdose was the number-one cause of accidental death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64, more than even motor vehicle traffic crashes, according to the CDC.

Photo caption: Riverhead police officers and Riverhead Youth Coalition members pose with Councilman John Dunleavy (back row, third from left) and Supervisor Sean Walter (back row, fourth from left) at Saturday’s event. (Photo courtesy of Felicia Scocozza)