With “Take Back” event, Cortland looks to curb prescription drug abuse

Editor’s Note: The following article is Part 2 in a five-part series exploring issues of drug and alcohol addiction in Cortland County as part of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Read Part 1 here.

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Two medication collection events will be held in Cortland County this weekend, with the goal of decreasing abuse of prescription medications.

The events offer opportunities to drop off unused, expired and unwanted over-the-counter and prescription medications. Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Linnay Harmer, prevention specialist for Cortland Prevention Resources, says addicts often get access to prescription drugs through the medicine cabinets of family members.

“That’s their first access point for a prescription opiate,” Harmer said. “It’s either from a doctor’s prescription, which is very common, or being taken from someone else.”


Harmer says prescription drug abuse remains an ongoing problem in the community, leading to abuse of street drugs such as heroin and meth.

“Typically what happens is the opiate addiction progresses into something that’s difficult to obtain financially,” Harmer said. “It’s fairly expensive to continuously be buying these opiates…and a lot of people do end up transitioning into heroin because of the cost factor.”

Numerous studies have shown that prescription drug abuse has led to heroin use in suburban and rural communities.

Since the county began medication collection events in 2010, more than 10,000 pounds of prescription medication has been collected.

Collection events held in late April in Cincinnatus and Cortlandville brought in more than 760 pounds of medication and 43 different types of narcotics.

Collection events are being held this Saturday at two different locations. County residents can drop off unwanted medications at the Cortlandville Fire Station at 999 Route 13 in Cortland from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. and in front of Marathon High School at 1 Park Street in Marathon from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Collection boxes are available 24/7 at the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department, the city of Cortland Police Department and the SUNY Cortland Police Department, and from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the village of Homer Police Department.

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