Over the weekend, Americans observed the eighth annual "National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day," an initiative to educate citizens about the potential abuse of medications that may be found around the home. Residents are being encouraged to make the one-day drive an everyday occurrence.
Officials gathered at the Albany Community Development Agency in Arbor Hill Saturday to share tips about safe, convenient and responsible methods to dispose of prescription drugs. Assistant Special Agent In-Charge for DEA operations in Upstate New York James Burns: "Opiate abuse is rampant in both the Capital District and in our nation as a whole. These takebacks help us get diverted opiates off the street, and in the last seven takebacks we've taken almost 30,000 pounds of unwanted medication off the streets, and over 10,000 people have participated in that."
Albany Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy says careful disposal of expired or unwanted meds helps avoid ecological disaster by… "...making sure we are not putting prescription drugs in the toilet, not leaving them in a cabinet for others to have access to, and making sure that we are trying to take them back, recycle them in a proper way, dispose of them in a proper way, so that they don't end up in our streams, in our water, nor being inappropriately used or abused by others."
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy brought his household's contribution to the news conference. "I cleared out my cabinet today. [rattles baggie containing med vials] And that's what I came with today. I have three kids from 18 down to 9, and they have friends over to the house. This isn’t secure in anyone's house. These are just sitting in your medicine cabinet, someone could go into your bathroom, open it up - you wouldn't notice if you had that pill sitting on that shelf or noticing that it went from 30 pills down to 10. You're not gonna realize that."
Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff points out that for many people, their first foray into opiates is often via a home medicine cabinet. "A lot of the heroin use we're seeing today, which made a lot of news, if you're tracing back the roots you see it quite often back to some type of prescription opioid."
McCoy punctuated his turn at the podium with startling facts. "Prescription drugs kills more people than heroin addicts and cocaine. Think about that. Prescription drugs don't discriminate. It affects everybody. I think everybody in this room knows somebody in the their life it has happened to them."
Year-round Rx drop-off locations in the Capital Region:
NYS Police Troop G, 760 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham
North Greenbush Police Department, 133 Bloomingrove Dr., Troy
Town of Waterford Public Safety, 65 Broad St., Waterford
Cambridge/Greenwich PD, 56 North Park St., Cambridge
Over the weekend, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneidermann highlighted the success of his groundbreaking Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP) legislation in combating the prescription drug epidemic, as well as his recently launched Community Overdose Protection (COP) Program, which will fund the equipping of every law enforcement officer in New York with naloxone, the heroin overdose antidote.