More than 2,000 bags of expired medication have been safely disposed of in the South Glens Falls area, thanks to a new piece of technology.
It’s a bag with carbon in it, called the Deterra drug deactivation pouch.
People fill it with unused or expired medication, including pills, liquids and patches. They add warm water, close it, and shake it to dissolve the carbon. The carbon, along with a proprietary absorption technology, destroys the medication and the person can toss it in the trash without worrying that it will contaminate the environment.
The Prevention Council received a grant to begin distributing the bags for free in the village. Over the past two years, people have picked up 2,500 bags.
The goal is to get those medications away from people who might abuse them. The Prevention Council regularly warns the public that teenagers will search medicine cabinets while visiting someone’s house and might grab the leftover opioid pills that an adult forgot about.
“The community has benefited from the program by eliminating the potential for abuse and by protecting our landfills and water sources,” said South Glens Falls Police Chief Kevin Judd.
The bags are available at every school in the South Glens Falls school district, as well as at Hannaford, the police station, Moreau Community Center and Moreau Family Health.
The Prevention Council’s message has been “Reduce the Meds, Reduce the Risk.”
But many people have also been worried about the environment.
“Medication can contaminate the water system,” said program coordinator Alexandra Barr. “People say, ‘I grew up being told you can flush the pills down the toilet.’ Well, we know now you can’t flush them down the toilet.”
And that’s led to people “stockpiling” their leftover drugs until they can get to a drug collection event, she said.
Some people stockpile for years before an event happens at a time and place convenient to them. And that creates the opportunity for someone else to abuse the drugs.
“Just being in the house, it’s easy to get,” Barr said.
Youth vaping community forum
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A community forum on vaping and e-cigarette use among young people will be held on Nov. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Glens Falls High School.
It will discuss the current usage among middle and high school students and the trend over time.
The news is grim: nearly 40% of 12th graders and 27% of high school students in New York state are now using e-cigarettes, according to the state Department of Health. That means high school use is 160% higher than it was in 2014, when 10.5% of high school students used e-cigarettes.
There will be a short presentation by a panel of experts from Warren County Public Health, Adirondack Pediatrics, Glens Falls City School District, Council for Prevention, Glens Falls Hospital and Adirondack Health Institute’s Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities program.
The panel will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
The state is offering two weeks’ worth of free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges to help people quit using e-cigarettes. Users can also get free coaching to help them quit.
They should seek help through the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, 1-866-NYQUITS.
Vaping has not been proven to help people quit nicotine. However, nicotine replacement therapy generally doubles the user’s chance of quitting. The state provides a starter kit with a minimum two-week supply of nicotine gum, lozenges or patches. Users can receive up to two kits per year, at least 90 days apart.
“The ongoing outbreak of vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses plaguing New Yorkers and people across the country is a stark reminder of the addictive nature and potential dangers of e-cigarettes,” said state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in a statement. “We are proud to expand our existing services to further assist people struggling with nicotine addiction in all forms to quit once and for all.”
Youth substance abuse prevention grant
The Community Health Center of St. Mary’s Healthcare & Nathan Littauer Hospital in Johnstown, in Fulton County, was awarded a $125,000 Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, announced.
The program will offer “proven” prevention methods to stop youth from trying illegal drugs.
“Opioid and other substance abuse and addiction is a crisis that no community is immune to, including the North Country,” said Stefanik. “I am grateful to (the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy) for their advocacy and action on this critical issue. They know that prevention is the most powerful tool to counteract addictions in our communities. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress in a bipartisan manner to pass meaningful reforms to combat youth substance abuse.”