Residents encouraged to turn in unneeded prescription drugs to help reduce illegal use
Submitted by Howard Owens on September 27, 2012 - 9:18am
Unused and unneeded prescription pills left laying around the house or stored in a medicine cabinet are a potential stepping stone to drug addiction, area law enforcement officials warned in a press conference at the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday.
Drugs -- prescription or not -- need to be properly disposed of, which is why officials are once again conducting a region-wide drug takeback event this Saturday.
"We want (parents and grandparents) to know that saving your prescription drugs is dangerous," said Dale M. Kasprzyk, resident agent in charge for the DEA. "Treat those drugs like a loaded gun. Be careful with them. Bring them to us. Let us dispose of them in a really safe fashion and let's reduce the risk to young people."
Led by U.S. Attorney for Western New York William Hochul, local authorities all shared the same message: Not only are opiate-based prescription drugs, such as hydrocodone and oxycontin -- highly addictive and potential killers, the drugs are a gateway to illicit drugs such as heroin.
"Some teenagers think because it comes in a pill bottle that mom or dad had and it was made by a pharmaceutical company and prescribed by a doctor, maybe it isn’t quite as dangerous as it really is, in effect," Hochul said. "Maybe children know, heroine or cocaine, stay away from that, and they do, until they get hooked on what they began (using) by thinking it was a legitimate product."
Le Roy Detective John Condidorio said a local mother recently died following an overdose on prescription pills. It was a devastating event for her family, he said.
"As a person who works the streets regularly, these are the things we do see," Condidorio said. "When we talk about the dangers of these narcotics, these prescription pills, not only do we see people being harmed, because people want to rob them of them, we also see family members suffering the loss of other family members."
Officials warned that such drugs become available when parents and grandparents leave unused and unneeded drugs around the house. The supply is increased by doctors who over-prescribe painkillers and insurance-required mail-order prescriptions, which often require, say, a three-month supply of pills even when only a supply for a week or two is needed.
Sometimes a family winds up with bags full of pills when a loved one dies after a long battle with a terminal disease.
All of these pills -- they need not be in their original container -- can be dropped off at one of four locations on Saturday -- or any day of the week -- no questions asked.
- Batavia PD, 10 W. Main St., Batavia
- Le Roy PD, 3 W. Main St., Le Roy
- Pembroke Town Highway Barns, Route 5 and Route 77
- Batavia Barracks, State Police, West Saile Drive, Batavia
The State Police location is a permanent, no-questions-asked drop box inside the foyer of the barracks, and Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch noted that his department, along with all of the other agencies in the county will accept unused and unneeded medications any day of the week and ensure the pills are disposed of properly.
Another reason to properly dispose of medications is simply flushing them down the toilet can be an environmental hazard and Hochul and Kasprzyk encouraged residents to bring all types of medications -- including over the counter medications -- to the drop-off points for proper disposal.
The drugs will be safely incinerated, Hochul said, minimizing the environmental danger.
Hochul praised local residents, particularly in Genesee County, for working with local officials to address drug issues.
He cited in particular the crackdown on illegal meth labs in 2009 and 2010 and the effort to stem the flow of so-called "bath salts" in the county.
"Whatever the issue, if people see something and they say something, these officers do something," Hochul said.
Meth production locally has been greatly reduced since a series of raids a couple of years ago, Sheriff Gary Maha said, and the reports of incidents involved suspected "bath salt" use have dropped to nearly nothing since July, when a local retail outlet suspected of selling the drugs was raided by the DEA.
Hochul said he hopes that if residents suspect illicit drug activity of any kind, they will continue to report it to local authorities, and if it's the kind of issue federal law enforcement needs to get involved with, his office and the DEA are ready to help.