There is currently an epidemic with Rockland County youths aged 12 to 26 abusing prescription pills, according to Rockland County Sheriff Lou Falco.
Falco talked about the ongoing issues with illegal prescription drug use in the county. He said that on the street, one Oxycontin pill can be sold for $90. HE also told the crowd, a majority of whom were seniors, that the epidemic affects them too.
“When you go home after an operation and you’re sick, do you count every pill in your bottle? No, you just take your pill and put it in the medicine cabinet,” Falco said. “And when your granddaughter, your niece, the babysitter comes over, they go in mom’s and grandpa’s medicine cabinet. They’re taking heart medication, they’re taking heart pills. They’re taking all of this.”
Falco said the pills can end up at what he called “skittles parties,” where a big bowl is put out and all the pills are put in it. The partygoers spin a bottle and the person it lands on picks a pill from the bowl.
“It can be Oxycontin, it can be your grandpa’s heart medication, which has an adverse reaction to you because you don’t have a heart problem,” he said. “It could be Xanax. It could be anything that you can imagine.”
Falco told Nanuet Civic Association members that he’s gone around to senior groups to talk to them about the epidemic.
“What we’re finding is, the senior citizens more than anybody hold onto it, because they’re paying a lot of money for those prescription drugs, [and] they don’t have a lot of money,” Falco said. “Those drugs are ending up in your grandchildren, your babysitter, your niece’s or nephew’s car, being sold on the streets of Rockland County.”
Falco said people need to have a better understanding of how many pills they have and how accessible they are.
“You really need to lock that stuff up,” he said. “You need to put it away. You need to count it”
He said it’s not okay to flush the drugs, though, because they end up in the water supply then. Falco said the sheriff’s department and every police station in the county has a box in the lobby where people can drop off old medications, expired medications or medications they no longer use. The box in the sheriff’s department is taken to Dutchess County, where all the pills are destroyed, Falco said, adding that in the last year and a half they’ve collected more than 800 pounds from the pill collection program.
Another warning came from Civic Association Board Vice President Roberta Bangs, who has worked for a realtor, said she often heard complaints from people who host open houses that they have prescription drugs stolen during the open house.