WHITE PLAINS, NY — As part of Saturday’s National Prescription Take Back Day, Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino is making it easier for residents to safely dispose of their old and excess drugs and medications.
Tomorrow and Saturday, November 4, Westchester County will open its Household Material Recovery Facility, or H-MRF, 15 Woods Road, Valhalla from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The goal of Prescription Take Back Day is to provide safe, convenient, and responsible ways of disposing potentially lethal and addictive prescription drugs, while simultaneously educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.
“People often ask, ‘what can I do in this opioid crisis’?” Astorino said. “The best way to keep these prescriptions drugs out of reach is to get rid of them and to properly dispose of them. All too often, addiction starts with the medicine cabinet and ends in tragedy.”
For people who cannot make Saturday drop-offs, the facility will be open on Tuesday, November 14 and the first Tuesday of every month thereafter. The added drop-off days coincide with a national movement highlighting the dangers of prescription drugs and opioids. Additionally, residents can drop off medications at select local police departments at any time, or at two pharmacies that currently have lockboxes: CircleRx Pharmacy on Gramatan Avenue in Mount Vernon and Walgreens Pharmacy on Nepperhan Avenue in Yonkers.
“I provide this service as a way of helping people,” said Mark Rauchwerger, president and pharmacist, CircleRx Pharmacy in Mount Vernon. “It’s quick, easy and safe. If I can prevent even one person from overdosing on opioids, it’s well worth the effort.”
Earlier this year, the County Executive launched Project WORTHY — Westchester Opioid Response Teams Helping You to battle the growing problem of opioid addiction and a 200 percent spike in deaths in Westchester from 2010 through 2015. An extension of the county’s Safer Communities initiative, Project WORTHY builds comprehensive and practical solutions to difficult problems by integrating expertise and resources from across the county. Over 400 students from around Westchester gathered this month as part of Project WORTHY’s Youth Summit at the Westchester County Center where keynote speaker and Olympic coach Tony Hoffman warned students about how prescription drugs found in a medicine cabinet led him down a near deadly path of addiction, crime and prison, before he started his journey to recovery.
Sherlita Amler, commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Health, noted that it’s important that people properly dispose of their mixed medications, and that medications should never be thrown in the trash, flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink because they could taint ground and surface waters and harm those ecosystems.
“We must attack this national health crisis from every front,” said Amler, “and opening up the county’s recovery facility is a safe, easy and inexpensive way to properly dispose of unused and expired medications.”
When it began in 2008, Westchester County’s medication take back program was the first of its kind in New York State. It has since grown, and been replicated, and continues to be available at the Household Material Recovery Facility, by appointment and select days.
When delivering medications to the H-MRF, keep all items in the original container or, if unavailable, put them in a sealable plastic bag. Liquid medications should be in their containers in sealable plastic bags. County staff will be on hand to accept expired and unused medications for disposal.
For more information or to learn how to drop off medications at your local police department, refer to the Safe Medication Disposal brochure or call the Recycling HelpLine at (914) 813-5425.