Forty Pounds Plus

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Forty pounds? No, that’s not the extra weight we’re anticipating gaining during the calorie-filled weeks ahead. Forty pounds was the amount of drugs collected on the recent drug take-back day in Levittown. What made this number more remarkable was that due to the fact that the drug take-back program is an outdoor curbside project and that a nor’easter was bearing down on us during the scheduled event, the drug take-back was postponed til December 15th. Still, when residents showed up to turn in their unused medications in the midst of the storm, they headed straight for the local police station where a total of forty pounds of drugs were deposited. The police reported that “everything from vitamin C to fentanyl” was turned in.

Imagine what would have happened if the day was cold and clear instead of wet and windy! Actually, we don’t have to imagine because the Levittown Community Action Coalition has re-scheduled the drug take-back day for Saturday, December 15th from 9:30am to 12:30pm at Wisdom Lane Middle School.

Keep medications in original containers, but be sure to cross out personal identifying information (like names and addresses) but do not cross out the information about what medications are contained. Sharps and syringes will also be accepted, though liquid medication will not.

When was the last time you took a look through your medicine cabinet? May people are surprised to find pill bottles that contain leftover medications that expired months — or even years — ago. These are at best ineffective and at worse dangerous. We don’t want to flush them down the drain so they pollute our already fragile water supply. And we don’t want them available to guests — especially young people — who sometimes “shop” medicine cabinets for a few pills.

The other dangerous medications are opioids and other pain killers. Once we no longer need them for pain, there is a temptation to hold on to them “just in case” we need them again some day. But if that “some day” is a day when we take one of these pills because we’re feeling depressed or out of sorts, these powerful brain-altering drugs can lead to a dangerous destructive addiction.

When it comes to antibiotics, we’ve been so trained by our doctors to take all the pills as prescribed and not stop taking them if we feel better. We should take the whole course so that all the bacteria is killed. But opioids are different. Once we no longer feel physical pain, it’s important to stop taking the medication as soon as possible. A good physician will reinforce this with each patient.

So the drug take-back event is a perfect way to dispose of outdated medications and the drugs that are not needed anymore. Of course it’s also an opportunity to get rid of illegal drugs too — no questions asked.

Too many people have died because of drug overdoses and getting unnecessary and dangerous drugs out of our homes is one simple and effective way to fight the epidemic that harms so many of our family members and friends.

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Pastor of St. Bernard's since 2013 and known for his engaging homilies and community presence, Father Ralph Sommer is also a treasured columnist for the Levittown Tribune.

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