By Anastasia Marchese
The problem of how to deal with unused prescription medicine has become more and more of an issue, especially as prescription drug abuse is on the rise.
Whenever medications are used by people to whom the prescription was not made out for, or if it is being used in a way in which it was not intended, that is considered prescription drug abuse. There is a growing awareness of the problem, thanks to such organizations as the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse and The Medicine Abuse Project (a division of The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids).
According to the NCAPDA website, “There are more than 26,000 fatal drug overdoses each year in the U.S., and prescription drugs are the leading cause of them.”
One of the most powerful ways to combat this trend is to help people be aware of the risks inherent in keeping prescription drugs in places where they can be accessed easily. Many people keep powerful opiate painkillers unlocked in their medicine cabinet, never thinking that they could be taken by their children or grandchildren without their knowledge. Taking unneeded prescription drugs can not only be harmful or fatal but can also lead to drug addiction and use of illegal drugs.
There is the dilemma however of what to do with one’s medicine when it is no longer needed. Often patients will receive medication and then their symptoms will subside, leaving unused medication in the bottle. It is important to dispose of the medication properly however because putting it down the drain or disposing of it in the garbage can pollute the water supply. The presence of prescription medications in the water supply is a hazard for everyone.
In a response to this growing hazard, New Jersey’s Attorney General instituted Project Medicine Drop Box. The program is designed to allow people a safe and anonymous way to dispose of unneeded prescription medications, including powerful opiate pain killers.
Hackettstown became part of the initiative back in December of 2015. Sergeant Darren Tynan organized the program and explained how the department became aware of the need for a drop box.
“We always had a huge turnout for the two yearly take-back events sponsored by the DEA” (Drug Enforcement Administration). The Chief of Police sent in a letter to the state to become part of the Project Medicine Drop Box, which has become a great success.
“We empty the box about twice a month, and we have averaged about 10-15lbs each time” said Tynan. The medication is then taken by the officers to the incinerator in Oxford and they stay to verify that the medication is destroyed.
The drop box is located inside the police department area at the Town Hall. Anyone is free to come in during business hours and deposit their medications. Access to the box is available, however, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. All one needs to do is call the number posted on the door and an officer will come to allow access to dispose of medications in the box, no questions asked.
It is suggested that the medicine either be put into a plastic baggie or left in the bottles with the labels removed. That is not required but highly suggested for personal privacy.
For any questions or to dispose of medications, call 908-852-3300 for the police dispatcher.