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Story by: Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt - 109th Airlift Wing
Dated: Mon, Jul 11, 2016
SCOTIA, N.Y.--New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who work at Stratton Air National Guard Base here, now have a way to get rid of unneeded and unwanted prescription medications before a friend or family member abuses them.
The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force unveiled Stratton’s first prescription medication drop box July 11, which will be located in the 109th Security Forces Squadron building.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Crouse, the prescription medication drop box program manager, said the intent of the drop boxes is to give people an avenue to dispose of their unused or expired medications without affecting the environment and keeping them out of circulation where possibilities of abuse could present itself.
“According to the National Institute for drug abuse, over 70 percent of prescription medications which end up being abused are taken, bought or received by friends or family members,” Crouse said.
The National Guard Bureau reported that there were 538 cases of prescription drug abuse or misuse throughout the Air National Guard in fiscal year 2015.
“This indicates that it’s not just a problem in our communities but our very own backyard,” Crouse said..
“The Center for Disease Control states that overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999,” Crouse said. “In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids. Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.”
“I’m fully confident that with this initiative here on our base we will be successful and raise awareness resulting in the installation of other prescription medication drop boxes on military installations," he added. “We’re happy to have this asset here on base,” said Col. Alan Ross, 109th Airlift Wing vice commander.
“It’s just another tool in our toolbox to keep our Airmen safe, especially from the unintended consequences of expired prescription drugs.… I think having this here will entice people to go ahead and clean out the medicine cabinets to get the expired prescription drugs out of there so there is no inadvertent use," Ross said.
The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force assists law enforcement agencies which work to reduce drug trafficking, and also Airmen and Soldiers who are tasked with helping community-based anti-drug groups.
These “civil operators” are working with local groups around New York to put up similar boxes and “reduce the availability of prescription pills to possibly abuse or accidentally consume,” Crouse said.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York, challenged everyone to take a look in their medicine cabinets and clean out unneeded prescription drugs.
“How many prescription drugs do you have in there that are outdated? Because … it‘s probably more than what you think,” German said.