Central New York, Environment, Government, Health, Public Safety

Safe disposal of medicines and needles in Onondaga County – A way to reduce drug abuse

(c) Eshalaxmi Barlingay

By Eshalaxmi Barlingay SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Old medicines and needles can be safely disposed off in a disposable bin provided by a joint effort of two central New York programs, including Sharps, Needles and Drug Disposal(SNADD) .

Gail Banach, one of the program organizers of SNADD and director of public education at Upstate Poison Center, said it is very important for the old or unused medicines and drugs to come out of the houses. “More accessibility and availability increases a risk of drug abuse,” she said.

In 2016, Onondaga County had the highest number of opioid-related deaths in the whole of Central New York. This year, the number has dropped drastically from 142 to 53 in the first half of this year.

Since its launch in 2015, SNADD’s initiative has now reached 12 locations in Onondaga County, including 10 police departments and two colleges. This move has helped dispose around 3,500 old medicines and 1,000 sharps and needles.

“There was no such program in the town of Onondaga,” said Dave Wall, director of public safety and security at Onondaga Community College. “This is a great program as it aims to reduce drug abuse and protects our waterways.”

Old medicines and used needles pollute the environment. If these needles get into the waterways, there is a high risk of transmission of HIV and hepatitis-related diseases.

To get rid of these old and unused medications, after its disposal, two personnel from the district attorney’s office are assigned to collect them. They then take all the medications to Covanta, where they are safely incinerated, according to Banach.

“Those with possession of drugs can come to drop it off without any fear of prosecution,” said Wall.

Here are the locations to safely drop off unused and expired medicines and needles.