Photo: Riverhead CAP

With prescription drug abuse rates rising across the country, Riverhead CAP wants to help residents keep their medicine cabinets clear of unused and expired medications.

Its series of medication take-back events has netted hundreds of pounds of prescription drugs since they began in 2014.

Last weekend, the drug and alcohol prevention organization collected nearly 100 more pounds of unused and expired prescription drugs from local residents during an event at the town highway yard – and this weekend, they plan to collect even more.

Photo: Riverhead CAP
Photo: Riverhead CAP

The take-back event Saturday was held in conjunction with Riverhead Town’s S.T.O.P. day at the Riverhead Town Highway Yard. Residents were able to dispose of household hazardous wastes and electronics safely with the town, as well as drop off their unused and expired prescription medications.

In total, Riverhead CAP collected 91 pounds of medications.

Another medication take-back event is planned for this Saturday, October 22 in the lobby of Peconic Bay Medical Center. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A 24/7 medication drop box is also available in the lobby of the Riverhead Police Department at 210 Howell Avenue.

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Abuse rates are especially high among teenagers – it is more popular among teens than cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamine combined.

Prescription drugs are more likely to be seen as “less risky” than other street drugs because they are prescribed by doctors and used as medication, according to CAP. They are also easier to obtain than street drugs, especially for teenagers, who mostly get them from family members, friends or in their own homes.

Prescription drugs, however, can be very addictive and are highly regulated, which can lead teenagers hooked on pills to eventually turn to heroin, a much cheaper drug to buy on the streets.

Prescription drugs can also be very deadly. Deaths from prescription drugs are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, outnumbering even traffic fatalities. Prescription drugs cause more deaths than all illegal drugs combined.

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Katie Morosky
Katie, winner of the 2016 James Murphy Cub Reporter of the Year award from the L.I. Press Club, is a co-publisher of RiverheadLOCAL. A Riverhead native, she is a 2014 graduate of Stony Brook University. Email Katie