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Suffolk to hold medication disposal event

In an effort to get prescription medicines out of the water supply and out of the hands of adolescents, Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern, the Deer Park school district and the Suffolk Sheriff's Department will hold a medication disposal event Wednesday.

The event, one of the first in the county, allows anyone to come to the Deer Park High School lobby, at 1 Falcon Pl., from 2:30 to 9 p.m. and drop unused and expired over-the-counter and prescription medications into a box.

No questions will be asked, Stern (D-Dix Hills) said, but per DEA rules, sheriff's deputies will be on hand. They will inventory and incinerate the medicines, said Undersheriff Joseph Caracappa.

"We hear all the time about heroin use and how it's on the rise," Stern said. "It's a tremendous problem. But just as dangerous are the controlled substances right in our own medicine cabinets."

Caracappa said he has heard from both parents and school administrators who see a growing problem with prescription drugs and worry it could be a gateway to harder drugs. "It seems like all of these problems stem from these kids getting hold of prescription drugs and when those drugs run dry, finding an alternative . . . any opiates they can get their hands on," Caracappa said.

A 2009 national survey by Partnership for a Drug-Free America found that about 1 in 5 teens report abusing some form of prescription medication at least once in their lives, and 1 in 10 abused a prescription pain reliever in the past year.

Deer Park Superintendent Eva Demyen said the district has not seen an increase in drug incidents but wants to be proactive in addressing the issue. Demyen said the school's Partners for Safe and Drug Free Schools will also hold a workshop on drug abuse at the high school Wednesday night at 7.

"We wanted to have more of an awareness in our community so they know this is a problem and to not just put the focus on illegal drugs on the street but on the things used commonly in the home that kids can get hold of," she said.

Stern said the disposal event could also help protect the water supply. Improper disposal of medicines - thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet - has resulted in chemicals being found in drinking water.

Last year, the Suffolk legislature passed a measure, sponsored by Stern, that would allow the county to create a more formal, ongoing medication disposal program.

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