Berks County Medical Society Hosts 5th Annual Drug Take Back Event

Written by Emily Kenniston

The Berks County Medical Society will host its 5th Annual Prescription Drug Take Back Event, Saturday April 17, 2021 from 10am to 2pm at FirstEnergy Stadium.

After a hiatus last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, event partners including District Attorney John Adams, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration, SOS Berks County Opioid Coalition, and The Reading Fightin’ Phils are grateful to bring such an important day back to Berks County.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. In 2019, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives, according to National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Vehicles enter on Cathedral Street from Centre Ave to Front Street, and into the FirstEnergy Stadium parking lot.

The survey also showed that a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA’s [Drug Enforcement Administration’s] Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

“[The Drug Take Back Event is] a joint project between my office and the Berks County Medical Society. We are in the midst of an opiod crisis here in Berks County and throughout the state” said Berks County District Attorney, John Adams.

“We have seen a rise in the number of people who are suffering from addiction, [and] we have seen a rise in the number of individuals who have overdosed and who have passed away as a result of the use of opioids and other medicines. We believe that many times the opioid addiction starts with the use of prescribed medications; as a result it is incumbent upon us to encourage everyone in our county to not allow these dangerous substances to sit around in one’s medicine cabinet where [they] can become accessible for the wrong people to use, and it can become accessible for the wrong people to abuse,” said Adams.

Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt agrees that lockdown and isolation certainly magnified the problem for those who have substance use disorders. “Get [unused or expired] medication in a proper disposal facility,” he said. “[It is] Illegal to give someone your own prescription meds–get them out of the home and into safe hands.”

The 5th Annual Prescription Drug Take Back Event will be held Saturday at the FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading for a very special reason–all participants will receive a free ticket to a future Fightin’ Phils baseball game during their 2021 season.

It will be a drive-through event only due to continued Covid safety protocols. “Our ultimate goal is to not only get these unused or expired drugs out of the household where there is a greater potential for abuse and accidents, but also to educate the public on the permanent drop box locations in their community,” stated T. J. Huckleberry, Executive Director of the Berks County Medical Society.

“We applaud our community partners for recognizing the need for this event and partnering with our Society to make it happen,” he added.

Jennifer Kirlin, Communications Coordinator for SOS Berks County Opioid Coalition, says she is proud to be an event partner alongside the Berks County Medical Society. “The Take Back event is a great (and safe) opportunity for the Berks community to get rid of unused or expired prescription medications.”

In addition to Saturday, Kirlin says Berks County residents can visit the SOS Berks County Opioid Coalition website to request medication disposal bags for safe home disposal and lock boxes for medication storage.

Commissioner Barnhardt shared that he wanted to celebrate how much the community has come together for events like this; how all parties involved in this year’s event are in “constant lockstep” in doing the right thing.

“We are hoping to have a real banner collection on Saturday,” Barnhardt continued. “[These are] dangerous chemicals…the more we can get out of people’s homes and properly destroyed, [the more they] won’t go into the hands of people who were not prescribed and shouldn’t have them.”

The Berks County Take Back event has, over the last four years, had over a hundred thousand cars participating, which has yielded over 1,800 pounds of used or expired medication.

Adams also noted that the County has over 30 medicine dropbox locations, most of them in police departments, where people can dispose of their unused medications in a safe manner anytime. View a map of local drop boxes here: ddap.pa.gov/Find-a-Drug-Take-Back-Location

For more information about this event, visit berkscms.org/prescription-take-back. You can also visit the event’s Facebook page here: facebook.com/events/263332788844777

Article also available in: Español (Spanish)