Wednesday, October 28, 2015
The following is an article that was written for publication the local Bucks County newspaper, The Intel. The article ran on October 27, 2015.
As children across our area transition back to school - and parents begin their renewed worry about what a new school year will bring - it is a good time for community drug and alcohol prevention coalitions to remind parents about the importance of their role in keeping their children drug- and alcohol-free. Research shows that children, whose parents talk to them about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, are half as likely to misuse or abuse these substances.
Each cold and flu season, Pennsylvanians rely on products containing dextromethorphan (D)ß4), a safe and effective cough suppressant , to treat common cold symptoms. DXM is found in more than 100 cough and cold medicines, and can be purchased over the counter. Unfortunately, some people use medicines containing DXM for purposes other than what manufacturers have intended. Across the country some teens have reported taking large amounts of over-the-counter medicines containing DXM to get high.
Data collected in 2014by the National institute on Drug Abuse for its "Monitoring the Future" study estimates the intentional abuse of OTC cough medicine among eighth-graders at 2 percent, 10th graders at 3.7 percent and l2th-graders at 4.1percent. An empty beer can or pack of cigarettes in the trash would immediately grab a parent's attention, but an empty bottle or box of cough medicine may not arouse any suspicion if a parent is unaware of DXM abuse.
Because these medicines can be easily accessed in a teen's home or at the store, it is vital that parents and other community members know and understand the risks. Teens report taking 25 times or more the recommended dose when abusing these medicines, which leads to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision and disorientation, and can be life-threatening.
Furthermore, only 59 percent of teens strongly believe that abusing OTC cough medicine to get high is risky which means that nearly half believe it is not. That is why limiting access to medicines containing DXM is a critical step to reducing incidences of abuse among children.
While there is no one solution to preventing medicine abuse, as community coalition leaders we know that implementing restrictions on sales of products containing DXM to those 18 years or older would be an effective way to reduce access to minors while maintaining access for parents and other adults. Sen. Robert Casey has introduced legislation in the past to ensure minors are unable to purchase products with DMX to get high. With legislation supported by groups such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and by increasing parental awareness, we believe we can be successful in curbing DXM abuse. Youth need to understand that it is never safe to abuse medicine, even those available without a doctor's prescription.
Talk to your children and monitor your medications. Safely dispose of expired or unneeded medications.
There are educational tools available online at www.StopMedicineAbuse.org for both teens and adults. Spread the word. Your efforts will contribute to a safer community.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Please click this link to access the latest information on the October 17th, 2015 Take Back Day
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Please click below for the latest listing of the Take Back Collection Day event scheduled for Saturday, October 17, 2015 throughout Bucks County Police Departments.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
On Saturday, October 17 2015, Bucks County will be offering a Prescription/Over-the-Counter Drug Take Back Day from 10am-2pm. This is an opportunity for the public to safely dispose of any unwanted, unneeded or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications. All medications collected will be incinerated, thus eliminating the risk of diversion and protecting the water supply. This program is free and anonymous. All medications will be accepted, including pills, capsules, ointments, liquids, nasal sprays, inhalers and pet medications. Needles and illicit drugs will not be accepted. There are 32 drop off sites located in police stations throughout Bucks County that are available for residents to safely dispose medications. These boxes are opened for use during operating hours at one of the 32 police stations with boxes.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Need an alcoholic drink? Just add water…..
“It’s a simple shot of liquor in powdered form.” This statement was made by Mark Phillips, creator of one powdered alcohol brand, marketed as “Palcohol.” The issue of powdered alcohol, its composition, its convenience and its potential for misuse are being debated at the federal, state and consumer level with Palcohol being the most common example cited in the discussions.
Mark Phillips wanted to be able to take hikes, go biking, and enjoy an adult beverage at the conclusion of these activities. However, he soon ran into a problem with the inconvenience of carrying traditionally-packaged alcoholic beverages as he participated in physical activities. That was, until he came up with the idea of just adding water to alcohol in powdered form so these adult beverages could be enjoyed anywhere and anytime. While not the first powdered alcohol product, Phillips created Palcohol, and he has made headlines for his attempts to push for federal approval.
How is it made and what’s in it? Little is known by the public about its composition because it is still in the process of being patented. This much we are told by the manufacturers – when used as directed, the addition of six ounces of liquid to the powder is equal to a standard mixed drink. While versions vary, natural flavorings and Sucralose as a sweetener may be part of the powder.
In 2014, Palcohol was initially approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) but that decision was reversed several weeks later because of concerns over how the product was labeled. In March 2015, the TTB reinstated the approval of Palcohol. The issue of powdered alcohol use becomes more complex because to date, six (6) states have banned the product. Pennsylvania is among thirty (30) other states that have been proactively working to pass legislation to ban powdered alcohol. State Senator Shirley Kitchen (D-Phila) has already introduced legislation which would make it illegal for any person in Pennsylvania to possess powdered alcohol, even if it had been legally purchased in another state. In addition to this legislation, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has decided to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol. The decision is also receiving support from Governor Tom Wolf’s administration.
Some concerns influencing the legislative bans include an increase in the accessibility and potency of alcohol content, easier ability to carry and transport alcohol into areas where having such a product is illegal, snorting the powder, having the powder unknowingly sprinkled on foods or in drinks, and marketing campaigns that favor the youth market.
“This product is easy to conceal and could easily lead to an increase in substance abuse or misuse by minors or adults,” said Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Karen Murphy.
In a statement of support for the ban, Department of Drug and Alcohol programs Acting Secretary Gary Tennis said, “Endorsement of products that may strongly appeal to youth or make it easier for individuals to consume alcohol in places they would otherwise not be permitted to do so by law creates an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of Pennsylvania residents.”
Link for full PA legislation- http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=588
Thursday, April 16, 2015
On Saturday, April 25, 2015, Bucks County will be offering a Prescription/Over-the-Counter Drug Take Back Day from 10am-2pm. This is an opportunity for the public to safely dispose of any unwanted, unneeded or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications. All medications collected will be incinerated, thus eliminating the risk of diversion and protecting the water supply. This program is free and anonymous. All medications will be accepted, including pills, capsules, ointments, liquids, nasal sprays, inhalers and pet medications. Needles and illicit drugs will not be accepted.
Please click link below for more information and a complete list of all 46 public sites that will be collecting on Saturday, April 25th.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Bucks Promise for Youth and Communities is a consortium of organizations, agencies and coalitions who have mobilized around a mission of strengthening our communities, with an emphasis on the prevention and reduction of substance abuse, particularly amongst youth. The concept of working together on this important topic grew out of the President’s Summit for America’s Future in 1997. At that time, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford (with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan), along with numerous governors, mayors, and community delegations challenged America to make children and youth a national priority. The America’s Promise Alliance was formed and included Five Promises that communities would make to young people to assure their success in life. Following the Summit, in the year 2000, local county leaders including county commissioners, district judges, school superintendents, representatives from the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. and numerous business leaders decided to bring this concept to Bucks County.
Since that time, Bucks Promise for Youth and Communities (BPYC) has evolved and grown, but has always prioritized the importance of prevention in safeguarding our young people from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The recently released 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual study of teen behavior conducted by the University of Michigan, revealed that prevention efforts by coalitions and collaborative efforts such as Bucks Promise are yielding positive outcomes. Alcohol, tobacco and all drug use with the exception of marijuana and e-cigarettes have decreased among teens. These results have been attributed to on-going evidence-based community prevention efforts. Most of the organizations who attend the monthly meetings work in partnership with many sectors of our local communities, including schools, hospitals, law enforcement, faith-based groups, etc. so that the dissemination of information and sharing resources is maximized. The group discusses such topics as current drug trends, grant availability, and evidence-based programs which have proven effective in reducing drug use. Guest speakers target specific areas of interest, suggested by the members.
Most recently, Bucks Promise members have worked together through participation in the National Drug Take Back Days, a partnership between the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), law enforcement, and community groups. Additionally, members of BPYC have assisted in providing permanent medication collection boxes in police departments, municipal buildings, and the Bucks County courthouse. Bucks Promise originally embarked on the Take Back initiative in an effort to prevent prescription drug misuse among youth as well as to protect the environment. Research shows that one out of every four teens admits to misusing prescription painkillers, and EPA studies have detected pharmaceuticals in the water supply. The Bucks County Medication Take Back Committee, formed as a subcommittee of Bucks Promise, has been working to reduce these statistics.
In an effort to reach more organizations, businesses, and residents of Bucks County, the consortium is pleased to announce that we will be providing regular op-eds in this newspaper, following this introductory article. We look forward to sharing with the public relevant information, data, and discussion points related to the prevention of drug and alcohol use by our youth. We hope that through this increased communication, we can bring more individuals and groups to the table, to work together on these critically important issues in all of our Bucks County communities.