Stirpe: Let’s work together to fight the opioid crisis

Assemblyman Al Stirpe

Substance abuse is a prevalent and persistent issue that devastates far too many families and poses a significant risk to public health and safety. In 2017, 19.7 million Americans battled a substance use disorder.[1] As a community, it’s our duty to look out for one another and that includes helping our friends and loved ones through difficult times.

One of the best ways to help is to take part in the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Far too often, unused prescription drugs end up in the wrong hands, leading to tragic results. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million people misused controlled prescription drugs nationwide, the majority of whom obtained the drugs from the medicine cabinets of family and friends. [2]

The 18th National Take Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 26, a day for folks across the country to dispose of unused or expired prescription medication in a safe, environmentally conscious manner. During the 17th Take Back Day, which took place in April, the DEA collected more than 468 tons of medication, including 42,565 pounds in New York State alone.[3]

I encourage everyone to look through their medicine cabinets for forgotten and expired medication so it can be disposed of properly, which will help keep our loved ones safe. Here in Central New York, plenty of collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 26, including:

  • Manlius Town Police Department, Kinney Drugs, 7065 Manlius Center Road, East Syracuse
  • DeWitt Police Department, Wegmans, 6789 E. Genesee St., Fayetteville
  • Cicero Police Department, Wegmans, 7952 Route 11, Cicero
  • Cicero Police Department, Walgreens parking lot, 6189 Route 31, Cicero
  • Cicero Police Department, Kinney Drugs, 8150 Thompson Road, Cicero
  • Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, Wegmans, 4979 W. Taft Road, Liverpool
  • Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, Wegmans, 3955 Route 31, Liverpool
  • Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, Wegmans, 7519 Oswego Road, Liverpool

These are only some of the collection sites available locally. For a full list, go to takebackday.dea.gov and scroll down to the collection site locator.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a few tips on how to properly dispose of unwanted medication – the first of which is to see if a take back program is available in your municipality. The EPA also recommends taking the drugs out of their original containers, mixing them with undesirable substances like coffee grinds or cat litter, placing it into a disposable container with a lid – such as a sealable bag or margarine container – and placing it into the trash. Folks should also remember to remove any personal information from prescription bottles before throwing them away.[4]

Unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medication shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet or drain unless the label instructs you to do so. Improper disposal can cause harmful chemicals to leach into groundwater and contaminate drinking water, or they can harm the environment by getting into rivers and lakes.[5]

Our state remains committed to addressing the ongoing opioid epidemic and helping people get back on their feet. To support people on the road to recovery, I helped pass a state budget that allocates additional funding to expand jail-based substance abuse disorder services in county jails. The budget also created a new tax credit for employers of up to $2,000 for each person hired who is in recovery from a substance use disorder.

As we move forward, I’ll continue to expand access to treatment and help New Yorkers in recovery start a new chapter of their lives. Prevention, however, is key, which is why I hope that the 18th Drug Take Back Day will be the most successful yet.

As always, my door is open to anyone who has questions about this or any other community issue. Please contact my office at 315-452-1115 or StirpeA@nyassembly.gov.

[1] americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics

[2] takebackday.dea.gov

[3] takebackday.dea.gov/sites/default/files/NTBI%2017%20Totals-April2019.pdf

[4] epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/how-to-dispose-medicines.pdf

[5] Ibid.

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