RICK KAUFFMAN - DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA ° The New Delaware County Heroin Task Force Drug Collection Unit unveiled a van Friday afternoon that will be deployed to county-sponsored events to collect unused and expired medication to be properly disposed.The Delaware County Heroin Task Force Drug Collection Unit’s van is seen parked outside of the county courthouse in Media. It is deployed to community events to collect unused and expired medication.

District Attorney Katayoun Copeland and the Delaware County Heroin Task Force have taken their efforts to remove dangerous prescription drugs and combat opioid use on the road.

“Prescription drugs are often the target of theft and misuse. We know that young people are often becoming addicted to opioids by first taking a prescription drug which they get from medicine cabinets of their parents, their grandparents, or friends,” said District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland. “One way to prevent addiction is to offer convenient, secure and environmentally safe drug collections to decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in the home.”

Since the Heroin Task Force was formed in September 2012, it has become clear that addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic is necessary to protect the young. Authorities learned that young people were getting these pills from the family’s medicine cabinet, becoming addicted, and then often turning to heroin. It is important to get unused, unwanted and expired prescription medications out of home medicine cabinets and off the streets.

As part of the Delaware County Heroin Task Force’s mission to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs, abuse that can have fatal results, the Mobile Drug Collection Unit will be at various upcoming community events across Delaware County, including many upcoming National Night Out events taking place on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

By making the mobile drug drop boxes available at community events, residents now have a convenient, safe, and anonymous way to dispose of their drugs. Organizations, businesses, and municipal leaders in Delaware County can call the Delaware County Heroin Task Force to schedule this van free of charge by calling the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division at 610-891-7869. For more information and a list of drug drop box locations near you, visit www.delcoHTF.org.

In addition to the Mobile Drug Collection Unit, the Heroin Task Force has 40 secure, permanent Medicine Drop Boxes at nearly all of the police departments and the Government Center in Media, and various Delaware County hospitals.

Additionally, the Delaware County Heroin Task Force is working in the community to connect those struggling with addiction to treatment and resources through the Delaware County Certified Recovery Specialist Program. These specialists, managed by Crozer-Keystone, are available to assist residents around the clock. The Certified Recovery Specialists have engaged and outreached to more than 1,000 people, averaging about three calls a day. Residents can reach a Certified Recovery Specialist by calling 610-497-7278.

Over a dozen community events have been listed through October for people to get rid of their unwanted medications through the county’s mobile drug drop-off collection program.

The county’s Mobile Drug Collection Unit and mobile drug take-back boxes will be available for safe disposal of medications at the following events.

Aug. 7, National Night Out, Darby Township, 5-7 p.m., Darby Township Police Department Parking Lot, 2 Studevan Plaza.

Haverford, 6-9 p.m., Quarry Center, 116 W. Township Line Road, Havertown (in front of Lowes).

Lansdowne, 6-8 p.m., North Highland Avenue, Parking Lot, next to the Lansdowne Fire Co., Lansdowne.

Springfield, 6-9 p.m., Springfield County Club Parking Lot, 400 W. Sproul Road, Springfield.

Marple, 5-8 p.m., Cardinal O’Hara High School, 1701 S. Sproul Road, Springfield.

Upland, 6-9 p.m., Bristol Lord Field, Sixth and Main streets, Upland.

Upper Darby, 6-9 p.m., Upper Darby High School, 601 N. Lansdowne Ave., Upper Darby.

Aug. 27, Bywood Healthy Community Forum, 6-9 p.m., 7099 Locust St., Upper Darby.

Sept. 15, Drexel Hill Overdose Awareness Day, Arlington Cemetery, noon-4 p.m., 2900 State Road, Drexel Hill.

Sept. 18, State Rep. Jamie Santora’s Senior Expo, Drexelbrook Special Events Center, 9 a.m-1 p.m., 4700 Drexelbrook Drive, Drexel Hill

Sept. 29, Parkside Community Day, noon-4 p.m., 2 E. Forrestview Road, Parkside.

Oct. 4, State Sen. Tom Killion’s Senior Expo, Penn State Brandywine, 10 a.m-1 p.m., 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media.

Oct. 6, State Rep. Chris Quinn Shred-It Event, Penn State Brandywine, 10 a.m -1 p.m., 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media.

Oct. 6, Aston Community Day, 10:30 a.m-3 p.m., 3270 Concord Road, Aston.

Oct. 20, Upper Darby Community Day, Upper Darby High School, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., 601 N. Lansdowne Ave., Upper Darby.

Established in 2017, the collection unit and mobile drug take-back boxes are the latest initiative of the county and its heroin task force to get rid of harmful and/or expired drugs that may have the tendency to be abused. The mobile collection platform is in addition to the boxes permanently housed in almost every police department in the county, as well as the county Government Center in Media and some local hospitals.

More than 20,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been collected through these take-back initiatives.

In 2014, county leaders strongly advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 1164, known as David’s Law, which gives police officers the right to give nasal administration of the opioid-antagonist drug naloxone. Since Nov. 2014 county officers have saved 1,243 lives with naloxone according to district attorney spokeswoman Emily Harris.

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, which records the number of naloxone saves, shows no county has had more successful reversals by police with the drug than Delaware County.

However, the drug death rate for the county has continued to rise from about 150 in 2014, to 208 in 2015 and 231 in 2016 according to the Pennsylvania Coroners Association. Official numbers for 2017 have yet to be released.

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