A Long Range View of the Opioid Epidemic

A major drug problem in the United States is not on the streets – it is in your home.

Medicine cabinets continue to be a source of drug abuse. To help keep your family protected it is important to safely dispose of unused and expired medications. Twenty-nine medication drop boxes are currently located throughout Berks County, but for some, getting to a dropbox location may not be possible. A new program will provide an alternative option for Berks residents.

SOS Berks, the Berks Opioid Coalition, will be distributing medication disposal bags to individuals who are homebound and need to dispose of unused and expired medications.  “The medication disposal bag is yet one more weapon at our disposal to fight the opioid overdose epidemic” states Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt, Co-Chair of SOS Berks.  “These bags allow for the safe disposal of medications that may otherwise end up in the hands of our children and grandchildren.” The medication disposal bags are made available through funds from the Berks County Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities Program.

Beginning this spring, the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA), in collaboration with the Berks County Office of Aging, will coordinate outreach and education programs to home health care programs and senior centers.  Dr. Edward B. Michalik, Executive Director of the Berks County Office of Aging indicated that the medication disposal bags would be especially helpful for those seniors who are homebound and may not be able to safely dispose of their unused medications. According to Dr. Michalik, the medication disposal bags, together with awareness materials, will be disseminated specifically to seniors unable to access the medication drop boxes.

This initiative is part of a comprehensive plan developed by SOS Berks to assist county residents in the disposal of unused medications. SOS Berks began in 2016 with a focus on reducing overdose deaths related to opioids. Efforts of the coalition have spread to include community safety related to opioids, including medication safety. Visit their Facebook page at Facebook.com/sosberks to learn more.

For more information about this program, please contact Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz at (610) 376-8669, Ext. 112 or mghinnershitz@cocaberks.org.

About Council on the Chemical Abuse (COCA)

Established in 1972 by a group of community members, the Council on Chemical Abuse was formed as a private non-profit organization to address rising concerns of drug and alcohol use in Berks County. The Berks County Commissioners contract with the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) as the Single County Authority for Berks County, PA. As the coordinating agency for publicly supported drug and alcohol programming in the county, COCA and its partners provide an array of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services. More information can be found at www.cocaberks.org.

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