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Takeback effort nets used meds

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

John Natoli of Cortland drops off medications Saturday during a drug take back event at the Cortlandville Fire Station on Route 13.

Volunteers from the Cincinnatus Fire Department, the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office and Family Counseling Services spent a few hours Saturday collecting used prescription drugs as part of a seasonal drug takeback.

For seven years, the Sheriff’s Office and Family Counseling services have been doing the takebacks, said Sheriff Mark Helms.
Last year, between 35 and 40 cars showed up to drop off drugs, he said. From 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. only a handful had shown up to the firehouse, it was early.

However, in Cortlandville, a line of cars drove through the parking lot, drivers rolled their windows down just enough to hand drugs off to volunteers and then they drove off. Drug takeback events Saturday in Cincinnatus, Cortlandville and Moravia collected old prescription medications for disposal in an incinerator, rather than risk them being sold illegally.

In the previous six years the program has collected around 12,000 pounds of old or unused prescriptions, said Linnay Harmer, a prevention specialist with Cortland Prevention Resources.

Eight people died in Cortland County and 12 were hospitalized in 2015 due to all kinds of opioids, and naloxone, brand name Narcan, was administered 82 times in 2016, according to the state Department of Health. That’s double the number of overdose deaths, of all kinds, from 2014.

For four years, the event has been hosted by the Cincinnatus Fire Department, said Chief Shawn Scoville. “I think it’s a great program,” Scoville said. “It keeps people from putting them (drugs) in the sewer system and water, or in someone else’s hands.”

Each year, the Cincinnatus Fire Department hosts the spring collection and the Marathon Fire Department hosts the fall. The Cortlandville Fire Department participates during both, Helms said.

In Moravia, the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office was also taking back drugs at Kinney Drugs, 130 Main St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The volunteers will take any drug to destroy. “We’ll take every one we can get that’s not needed for use,” Helms said.

Everyone has a reason to bring old prescriptions to the takeback, Harmer said. “Some want it out of their house.”

At the Cortlandville drop-off, John Natoli of Cortland had dropped off a bag of old prescription drugs. This wasn’t the first time he’s used the program. “It gives me a piece of mind,” Natoli said. “It’s nice to be able to safely get rid of things.”

A big theme of the takeback is to keep the drugs out of the hands of people who want to abuse them, Harmer said. “It’s better if we take them back and burn them.”

At the end of Saturday, drugs collected at the Cincinnatus and Cortlandville fire stations were to be loaded into a trailer and taken to an incinerator in Fulton, Harmer said. The Sheriff’s Office will escort the drugs and act as witnesses to the destruction, Helms said.

While the take-back program happens twice a year, there are also four kiosks in the county where people can drop drugs, Harmer said. Their locations include the city police station, the Homer Village police station, SUNY Cortland police station and the Sheriff’s Office.

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