The bi-annual drug disposal day, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is part of an ongoing effort to battle the prescription drug and heroin addiction crisis plaguing the nation. With drug overdoses now the leading cause of accidental injury-related deaths nationwide, Drug Take Back Day helps rid homes of prescription drugs that could be abused, stolen or resold.
“New Jersey, like states across the country, is battling a drug addiction epidemic claiming victims from all walks of life. No family is immune,” said Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy. “We must all join forces to fight back against this devastating disease. Tomorrow, citizens can do their part by discarding prescription drugs that too often start people down the path of addiction.”
DEA collection locations, staffed by authorized law enforcement officials, are planned from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at community sites across the state. Residents can also discard drugs at the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Project Medicine Drop boxes open year-round at 158 police departments across New Jersey.
“Studies have shown that most prescription abusers get their pills from friends and family, often by raiding their medicine cabinets,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Purging unneeded medicine is a simple step consumers can take to keep these highly addictive pills from falling into the hands of those who might abuse them, or sell them for abuse.”
According to the DEA, four out of five new heroin users begin their addictions with prescription pain medication.
Since its launch in 2011, New Jersey’s Project Medicine Drop program has collected more than 12,740 pounds of unwanted medicine and destroyed it safely through incineration. Drop Boxes are now located in all 21 counties in the state, including a college police department and two military installations. Drop Boxes accept solid pharmaceuticals such as pills, capsules, patches, inhalers, and pet medications. They cannot accept syringes or liquids.
Project Medicine Drop is one of the many initiatives the Division of Consumer Affairs has undertaken to combat prescription drug and heroin addiction.
This week, the Division expanded its New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP) to include New York as one of seven states now sharing data with New Jersey on prescriptions written and filled for Controlled Dangerous Substances. Delaware, Connecticut, Virginia, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Minnesota have also linked their prescription monitoring systems to the NJPMP.
More than 96 percent of New Jersey physicians eligible for access to the NJPMP have registered to access and share data that can be used to spot signs of addiction – including patients who may be “doctor shopping” to obtain drugs from multiple prescribers.
Last year, the Division launched the nation’s first PMP mobile app allowing practitioners to search the NJPMP via smartphones and other mobile devices. New regulations under review authorize healthcare practitioners to designate certain other to access the information on their behalf.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.