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Counterdrug unveils prescription medication drop box on Stratton

The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force unveiled Stratton Air
National Guard Base's first prescription medication drop box July 11, 2016,
which will be located in the 109th Security Forces Squadron building. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master. Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force unveiled Stratton Air National Guard Base's first prescription medication drop box July 11, 2016, which will be located in the 109th Security Forces Squadron building. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master. Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force unveiled Stratton Air
National Guard Base's first prescription medication drop box July 11, 2016,
which will be located in the 109th Security Forces Squadron building. Along
with Counterdrug and 109th Airlift Wing officials, military leaders from New
York State were also in attendance including Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Center;
Army Brig. Gen. Raymond Shields; Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony German, New
York State Adjutant General (center), and Air Force Brig. Gen. Timothy
LaBarge. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephen Girolami/Released)

The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force unveiled Stratton Air National Guard Base's first prescription medication drop box July 11, 2016, which will be located in the 109th Security Forces Squadron building. Along with Counterdrug and 109th Airlift Wing officials, military leaders from New York State were also in attendance including Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Center; Army Brig. Gen. Raymond Shields; Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony German, New York State Adjutant General (center), and Air Force Brig. Gen. Timothy LaBarge. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephen Girolami/Released)

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who work at Stratton Air National Guard Base now have a way to get rid of unneeded and unwanted prescription medications before a friend or family member abuses them.

The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force unveiled a prescription medication drop box today, which will be located in the 109th Security Forces Squadron building.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Crouse, the prescription medication drop box program manager, said the intent of the drop boxes is to give people an avenue to dispose of their unused or expired medications without affecting the environment and keeping them out of circulation where possibilities of abuse could present itself.

"According to the National Institute for drug abuse, over 70 percent who abuse prescription medications are taken, bought or received by friends or family members," Crouse said.

The National Guard Bureau reported that there were 538 cases of prescription drug abuse or misuse throughout the Air National Guard in fiscal year 2015.

"This indicates that it's not just a problem in our communities but our very own backyard," said Crouse. "I'm fully confident that with this initiative here on our base we will be successful and raise awareness resulting in the installation of other prescription medication drop boxes on military installations."

"We're happy to have this asset here on base," said Col. Alan Ross, 109th Airlift Wing vice commander. "It's just another tool in our toolbox to keep our Airmen safe, especially from the unintended consequences of expired prescription drugs. ... I think having this here will entice people to go ahead and clean out the medicine cabinets to get the expired prescription drugs out of there so there is no inadvertent use."

Counterdrug civil operators work with law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations to "reduce the availability of prescription pills to possibly abuse or accidentally consume," Crouse said.

"The Center for Disease Control states that overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999," Crouse said. "In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids. Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids."

Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony German, New York State Adjutant General, challenged everyone to take a look in their medicine cabinets. 

"How many prescription drugs do you have in there that our outdated? Because ... it's probably more than what you think," he said.