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Leftover Mystery Drugs in Your Medicine Cabinet? CNYers Can Get Rid of Them Safely Saturday

Many Central New Yorkers probably have some old prescription drugs in the far reaches of their medicine cabinets that have long been forgotten.  Neil Tierson, regional pharmacy manager for Kinney Drugs, explains why it's not a good idea to keep them.  

"There's a lot of drug issues that can be related to medications that one might have at  home.   There's a great opportunity for someone to divert drugs just by going into the medicine cabinet with letover medications, whether it be a contolled substance or a medication that might get someone a high."

Kinney is partnering with local police departments tomorrow for the annual National Drug Take Back Day.  Most medications might be left over from a previous illness or injury, and some are more potent or addictive than others.  Tierson says painkillers like opioids top the list of those that should be removed or secured just so they’re not a temptation to visiting family or friends.

"They grab a couple of oxycodone, that ultimately could cause an addiction or addictive behavior pattern down the road.  So it's important to keep medications locked up and secure.  But also recognize those around us, make sure if you see odd behaviors, issues of mental health, or concerns of addiction, get them help as well, or have the discussion with them." 

Select Kinney Drugs locations will take back any unwanted prescription medications.

The drug take back day is also an environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted medications.  Tierson says flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash are not recommended.

"A lot of these drugs break down and can become toxic when mixed with water.  They can get into the environment and affect water and air quality."

However, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency says it’s OK to throw medications in the trash because they’ll be incinerated and turned into electricity with other waste.  The pills are more of a threat when disposed in a landfill.  The drug take back will take place Saturday from 10 to 2 at select Kinney Drugs and some police stations, no questions asked.  Last year, nearly 40,ooo pounds of unused medication were collected in New York alone.  Participating Kinney Drugs locations are available here.  Others are at a statewide website here.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at