Health & Wellness

Combating Drug Abuse One Rx at a Time

Bags of medication collected at the Somers Police Station. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Carol Christiansen, co-founder of Drug Crisis in Our Bsckyard, addressing those gathered. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Officials greet a resident dropping off meds. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Sen. Terrence Murphy and Councilman Anthony Cirieco discuss opioid addiction and the community's efforts to eliminate drug abuse. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik

Somers, N.Y.--Members of the community gathered at the Somers Police Station Tuesday, Aug. 15, for the annual “Shed the Meds” campaign. State Sen. Terrence Murphy partnered with Somers officials to host a drop-off event three years ago in an attempt to stop drug abuse where it often starts: at home.

Though the drop boxes are available at the police station year-round (up to 30 pounds of unused or expired prescriptions are dropped off monthly, according to Somers Police), authorities promote the drop-off to raise awareness about the need to properly dispose of medications that otherwise might be used by unauthorized individuals or flushed down the drain, potentially polluting waterways.

According to a press release issued by Murphy, 160 children go to hospital emergency rooms every day because of accidental prescription drug overdoses. Additionally, when someone continues to use opioids, their dependency increases but they may not be able to maintain the source for their prescription drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This often leads to use of cheaper substitutes, such as heroin.

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Carol Christiansen, co-founder of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard, has said that overdoses and dependency are not characteristic of certain age groups, noting that the average age of overdose victims is 41, and that seniors often overdose because they are unaware of what they are taking. 

This year’s event was organized by Murphy, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, the town of Somers, Somers Police Department, Drug Crisis in our Backyard and Somers Partners in Prevention. Murphy, Byrne, Town Supervisor Rick Morrissey, Councilmen Anthony Cirieco and William Faulkner, Police Chief Michael Driscoll, Officer John Maquire, Sgt. Richard Barker and Christiansen.

“It’s a team effort,” Christiansen said. “Five years ago, I lost my son and we started Drug Crisis in our Backyard...the support that the senator and everybody here has given us has really made a difference, and we really have helped people.”

Officials deemed this year’s event a success, with 400 pounds of drugs collected.

“By disposing old and unwanted drugs, we are helping protect our families and our communities,”  Murphy said. “If ‘Shed the Meds’ saves one life, then our efforts are worth it.”

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