Police Incinerated 540 Pounds Of Drugs Following Drug Take Back Event
Published: May 4th, 2022
By: Tyler Murphy

Police incinerated 540 pounds of drugs following Drug Take Back event In a single day the Norwich Police Department collected nearly 70 pounds of mostly prescription medication during their Drug Take Back event on Saturday, pictured above. (Photo from the Chenango Health Network)

NORWICH – On Saturday the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office and DEA incinerated 540 pounds of prescription drugs that had been collected locally in collaboration with the Norwich Police Department and the Chenango Health Network.

Twice a year local police hold “Drug Take Back” events supported by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and on Saturday police accepted discarded medication without question while the Chenango Health Network offered assistance and information to anyone who asked for it.

Norwich Deputy Police Chief Scott Burlison said the department would accept medications and substances turned in throughout the year at the station located at 18 East Main Street.

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He said the bulk of the collected drugs had been turned in over time, but on Saturday alone 31 people visited the Norwich Police Department and dropped off a total of about 70 pounds of discarded medication.

The drugs were later transported to an incinerator in Onondaga County.

Burlison said many of the discarded medications were Opioids, a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin. He said many were prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine.

“These are addictive substances that have the potential of falling into the hands of younger people or other vulnerable groups,” he said. “We offer a safe place to bring unused medication with no judgement.”

He warned people not to dispose of medication into drainage systems.

“When they are flushed down the toilet and into the water system the medication doesn't go away, and it can still be detected and effects the water supply,” he said.

The events typically do not accept syringes, but police adjusted in recent years after a number of people brought them. Burlison said the NPD now offers to collect “sharps” in a special container that has to be handled carefully to ensure safety.

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The Chenango Health Network working with a coalition of drug and alcohol support services was also on hand to offer any aid.

Chenango Health Network case worker Tiffani Gager said the organization also offered two different financial assistance programs for residents of Chenango County.

One is for breast cancer and is funded by the St. Agatha Foundation. The amount of assistance is based on income and number of people in the household. The other is the Baker's Benefits program, which is funded by donations and assists men, women, and children with any type of cancer.

Both programs can assist with copays, prescriptions, lymphedema therapy and gas cards, or anything not covered by insurance.

“We have two different prescription programs as well. One is long term for maintenance drugs, and we work directly with the pharmaceutical companies. Once criteria is met, clients receive their medications for free. The other is a one time assistance per year for medications that the client can't afford and there's a $400 cap on that,” Gager said.

“Our Community Health Worker program (RCORP) specializes in supporting persons and family at risk of or currently living with SUD and or AUD. Our program is person-centered, trauma informed and harm reduction focused as to provide the best supports possible while meeting our persons where they are at,” Gager said.

The program is a collaboration between community agencies that include organizations offering mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment, primary care, recovery, housing, and law enforcement.

The Drug Take Back events typically take place in the Fall and Spring.

Last October’s Drug Take Back Day brought in more than 372 tons of unwanted drugs nationwide.

According to the DEA, “The drug overdose epidemic in the United States is a clear and present public health, public safety, and national security threat. 

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“DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day reflects DEA’s commitment to Americans’ safety and health, encouraging the public to remove unneeded medications from their homes as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting.

“DEA is committed to making our communities safer and healthier, and we can do this by reducing overdoses and overdose deaths. While the community does its part to turn in unneeded medications and remove them from potential harm, we are doing our part to further reduce drug-related violence.”

Those who are interested in learning more about the Take Back Day may visit takebackday.dea.gov for more information.