For too many New Jerseyans, addiction begins in the family medicine cabinet. Sussex County residents can help prevent unused or unwanted medications from finding their way into the hands of those who might abuse them on Oct. 26 and Nov. 9.
On those two days, Sussex residents can take expired, unused and no longer needed prescription and over the counter medications to a designated location between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The service is free and confidential.
The Center for Prevention & Counseling in Newton says the initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, according to an organizational statement. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets. In addition, flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash poses potential safety, environmental and health risks.
“When the Sussex County Prescription Drug Task Force started in 2008, it had a vision to have prescription drug medication disposal days occur twice a year in our county," said Becky Carlson, the center's assistant director. "Now, less than four years later, that is a reality with an event in the spring and the fall, and not only is it happening in our county, but nationwide.
"This effort is making a huge difference in reducing access and abuse of prescription drugs for youth, young adults and elders," Carlson continued. "Community problems need community solutions and that is what happened due to the work of concerned community members.”
Prescriptions collected during National Take-Back Day are taken to a central location to be incinerated.
Last September, 242,000 pounds or 121 tons of unwanted drugs were turned in to nearly 4,100 U.S. sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement partners. Last year, Sussex County alone disposed of over 1,800 pounds of medications.
Statewide, National Take-Back Day is sponsored by the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, New Jersey Prevention Network, and New Jersey Chiefs of Police Association.
On Oct. 26, drugs may be disposed at the Andover Township Police Department, the Byram Shop Rite, the Hamburg Police Department and the Ogdensburg Police Department. On Nov. 9, the Sussex County Municipal Utility Authority on Route 94 in Lafayette will be the site for disposal with the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office assisting.
If neither of those days work for you, the Hopatcong and Sparta police departments have 24-hour drop boxes available for medication disposal.