NISKAYUNA — Local residents can dispose of unused medications outside Niskayuna Town Hall on Saturday, the first chance since last year after a planned drug take-back day in April was canceled due to COVID-19.
Niskayuna High School students joined with the Niskayuna Community Action Program (N-CAP) to host the annual event this weekend.
The event, also hosted by the Niskayuna Police Department, will occur Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. People interested in disposing of their unneeded medications, including vaping supplies, can drop off the material without leaving their car. Liquids and syringes cannot be disposed of during the event.
People can also drop off vaping supplies – both the devices and nicotine cartridges used in vaping – for the first time. Vaping has been a rising problem among youth, including in Niskayuna, and a focus of N-CAP’s efforts in recent years.
Flushing medications down the toilet or even throwing them away in the trash can cause environmental problems; everything dropped off at Saturday’s event will be incinerated as soon as the event concludes.
“A lot of people are not really aware that you actually have to safely dispose of your drugs,” said Brooke Dempsey, a Niskayuna High School senior and member of the BASE student group, short for Be Aware Stay Engaged, which works with N-CAP program.
Kristin Sweeter, grant manager for N-CAP, said with students spending so much time at home during the pandemic it is even more important for families to get rid of prescription pills and other medications stashed away in the house somewhere.
“With our students at home and young adults home now either under-supervised or homeschooling, we really need to make sure we are cleaning out our medicine cabinets,” Sweeter said. “It’s really about reducing access. If it’s not available and it’s not there, people can’t use it.”
Dempsey and Cat Schiavi, another senior in the BASE club, said the pandemic has caused new stress for them and their classmates, noting that many of the activities and hobbies young people have long relied on as a social and emotional release have been canceled or severely limited.
“Due to the times, kids are a lot more in their heads now,” Schiavi said. “You see things all the time on social media giving you the wrong ideas about drugs and alcohol.”
Around six students from the club have volunteered to help at Saturday’s event, where they will wear personal protective equipment as they interact with people. Dempsey and Schiavi helped take over the club this year after a lot of senior leaders from last year graduated. The club has been holding virtual club meetings this year and making plans for other projects to come.
“I just tell everyone it’s a super positive community, and we are a close-knit group of people,” Dempsey said of BASE club. “We inspire and advocate that our peers do the right thing, but we make it fun.”
Supported by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Saturday is a national drug take-back day, with similar events taking place across the country.
“This is the newest opportunity we have had to be able to reclaim people’s unused or unwanted medications,” Sweeter said.