Several local police departments will be participating in National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.
National Drug Take Back Day was established by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in 2010. The event is held twice a year, in April and October.
During the October 2020 Drug Take Back Day, 492.7 tons of medications was collected across the nation.
Coxsackie Police Department will be participating by taking back prescription medications outside the village building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve been doing it pretty much since the inception,” Coxsackie Police Chief Sam Mento said. “We were one of the first agencies, along with the sheriff’s department, to institute that. Mayor Evans was pretty proactive about it when it first came out.”
Mento has seen a decrease in the amount of medications collected during the pandemic.
“[The amount] was significantly less with COVID,” he said. “I’m expecting a big turnout of this Drug Take Back Day.”
The department also collects medications on a routine basis at the station, Mento said.
“We ask people to take labels off the bottles if they can and they can bring it down and an officer will take them and put them in the deposit box,” he said.
Once the box is full, the police department makes arrangements to have the medications destroyed, Mento said.
“Drug Take Back Day draws people’s attention to it and helps get [the drugs] off the street and get them where they need to go for destruction,” he said.
The Cairo Police Department will be taking back medications outside of Hannaford from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Saturday.
“We’ve been doing it since 2014,” Police Chief Richard Busch said. “We started the program because we saw a need for it in the town. Lots of people had an abundance of unused medication sitting around their houses.”
The department saw a noticeable increase at their last event in October, which Busch attributed to the event’s cancellation in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the last Drug Take Back event, we had 11 cases that we had to bring back,” he said. “It was a little extra because the Drug Take Back had been canceled [in the spring] due to COVID. We never have less than two cases.”
The cases are about 2 1/2 feet tall and a square foot from side to side, Busch said.
The police department alternates locations for each event between Hannaford and CVS.
The cases are transported immediately after the event to the DEA office in Albany, Busch said.
Liquid medications, inhalers, aerosol cans, thermometers and needles cannot be accepted.
The department also accepts medications on a daily basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a disposal bin at the station, Busch said.
Drug Take Back Day plays an important role when it comes to addiction, Greener Pathways Program Director Carl Quinn said.
“It’s an important event about getting unused or expired medications out of the hands of people that might misuse those if they have access to them,” Quinn said. Four agencies in Columbia County are participating, Quinn said, including the Hudson Police Department, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Chatham Police Department and the emergency room at Columbia Memorial Health.
Greener Pathways will have cards and brochures available at these events, Quinn said.
“Take Back Day is an important part of the overall message about making sure there’s access to help and treatment when people are ready to get it,” Quinn said.
Columbia County has had 33 overdoses so far this year, four of them fatalities. This marks a 50% increase in overdoses and a 100% increase in overdose fatalities, Quinn said.
In Greene County, the preliminary numbers show a decrease in overdoses, but Quinn said there is a lag in reporting.
A total of 26 overdoses, three of which were fatal, have been reported so far this year in Greene County.
An estimated 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants and 5.9 million misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
For a list of medication drop boxes in Columbia and Greene counties, visit https://www.greenehealthnetwork.com/medication-drop-boxes/