It's a staggering number, as an estimated 70 percent of prescription opioids go unused by the person they were prescribed to. As a result, they often fall into the wrong hands.
In fact, three out of four people addicted to heroin reported their addictions began with opioid abuse.
"We know that people that have a substance abuse disorder, or youth, or just anyone that might be in someone’s home might experiment, or seek out those prescription drugs," said Opioid Overdose Prevention Coordinator Marissa Knapp.
While numbers have improved, Broome County has dealt with an opioid crisis for years. Starting next month, new kits will be distributed to communities to help cut down on drug abuse. You simply place un-used medications into these pouches, pour in hot water, seal them, shake them, and chemicals inside deactivate the drugs.
"We'll be able to create a culture that once you are finished with your medication, if you have any extra medication, it's ingrained in you. You have the bag, you can put it in there, and get it dumped out so nobody can use it that shouldn’t," said Broome County Executive Jason Garnar.
Broome County has made efforts to crack down on unused medications in the past. There are currently 13 drug drop boxes, and two drug take-back events a year. But for residents in rural areas, these may not be accessible.
"We want to make sure they have a way to dispose of the medications. Sometimes there's just stigma attached to having prescription drugs, so this is just a way to have a pouch, throw it away in your home and it's safe for everybody and the environment," said Knapp.
Each pouch contains activated carbon, which bonds to the drugs, making them non-retrievable and safe for the environment.
The pouches will be available for pickup at several municipalities and community agencies.