National Prevention Week: Preventing Prescription Drug and Opioid Misuse

Monday, May 10 kicks off Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2021 National Prevention Week. Each day of National Prevention Week has a main topic, which Monday is Preventing Prescription Drug and Opioid Misuse.

The National Institute on Health says teenagers and young adults have a common misperception that medications prescribed by physicians are safe, even when used illicitly. However, a broad range of motivations have been associated with the abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers. Some teenagers seek to self-medicate (e.g., pain, anxiety, insomnia) by abusing their own or others’ prescriptions.  1/3 of teens believe that it is okay to use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them for injury, illness, or physical pain. Other teens use prescription drugs to enhance performance or abuse steroids to shape their bodies. Some teens take prescription drugs to get high or experiment, often combining them with alcohol. 40% of teens who have abused, or misused prescription drugs obtained them from their parents medicine cabinet, 2/3’s who misused pain relievers in the past year got them from a family member.

The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. (ACASA) and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC) promote the message “Safe Use, Safe Storage, Safe Disposal.”

Safe Use is following the instructions of the medication and do not take any medication that has not been prescribed to you. Safe Use also means not sharing medications that are prescribed to you by a doctor with another person. Taking medications that are not prescribed to you personally, can have a bad interaction with other medications that you take and can be at a higher dose than you need, as many medications are prescribed based on a person’s weight. Federal and state law prohibits the sharing of prescription drugs that are controlled substances.

Safe Storage, as was mentioned above most young people who abuse or misuse prescription medications, get them from a parent, family member, or friend. Adults should take precautionary steps to make sure that their medications do not end up in the hands of their loved ones or their friends. Adults can make sure that their prescription medications are locked up, they can also keep an inventory of their medications. A blank medication inventory sheet can be found in the below resources.

Safe Disposal is encouraged for all community members. For starters, no one should hold onto unwanted or unused medications. By holding on to medications this opens the opportunity for them to get into unintended hands. Also, medications have an expiration date and over time will become ineffective or have an undesired effect. Secondly, we ask that you do not flush unwanted or unused medications down the toilet. Studies of our waterways have found traces of medications in the water and in fish. We also ask that you do not throw your medications in the garbage as people who know you have medications could go through your garbage to retrieve them. To properly dispose of your medications, you can take them to any of the following 10 Take It to the Box locations:

  • Alfred Pharmacy, 36 Main Street, Alfred.
  • Alfred State University Police, 10 Upper College Drive, Alfred.
  • Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, 4884 NY-19, Belmont.
  • Cuba Police Department, 15 Water Street, Cuba.
  • Fillmore Pharmacy, 10560 NY-19, Fillmore.
  • Friendship Pharmacy, 9 West Main Street, Friendship.
  • Nicholson Pharmacy, 36 Schulyer Street, Belmont.
  • Jones Memorial Hospital, 191 North Main Street, Wellsville.
  • Jones Memorial Medical Practice, 120 1st Street, Bolivar.
  • Wellsville Police Department, 46 South Main Street, Wellsville.

The Take It to the Box locations are available year-round and a free to community members. They are completely anonymous and confidential. Once the boxes are full the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office empties them and takes the collected medications to an incinerating location in Niagara County that renders the medications inert and harmless to the environment. In 2021 community members have dropped off almost 700 pounds of medications to the Take It to the Box locations.

Safe Disposal doesn’t only include medications, but also needles and sharps. Allegany County is only 1 of 2 counties that offers free disposal of needles or sharps to their community members. Anyone who wants to dispose of needles or sharps can take them to any transfer station in Allegany County. These locations are:

  • Alfred, 394 Satterlee Hill Road.

Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.

  • Belmont, 6006 County Road 48.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.

  • Bolivar, 135 Reed Street.

Open Wednesday and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.

  • Caneadea, 9425 Molyneaux Road.

Open Wednesday and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.

  • Canaseraga, 89 West Main Street.

Open Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.

  • Cuba/Friendship, 7912 County Road 20.

Open Thursday and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.

  • Wellsville, 77 Dyke Street.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.

We ask that before you dispose of your needles or sharps at any of these locations, please put them in a puncture proof container with a secure lid, such as a laundry detergent bottle. We want to protect people from unintentional pokes, for their safety. Before you put the bottle in the disposal box, please make sure the lid is tight.

By taking these steps we will make sure that prescription medications stay off our streets and out of the hands of our youth.

Remember Prevention Works!


National Prevention Week 585 Prevention Podcast with ACASA’s Community Educator Ann Weaver.