New Jersey Launches Pilot Program to Deter Prescription Drug Abuse [ABUSE]
Forty Americans die every day from prescription drug overdose. It's become what many health officials describe as a silent epidemic.
Here in New Jersey, authorities have launched a pilot program designed to combat the problem. "Project Medicine Drop" will feature mailbox-like drop boxes in police departments in Little Falls, Vineland and Seaside Heights where the public can drop off any prescription medications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"For safety reasons, we're limiting the opportunity to solid medications," said Tom Calcagni, Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. "We're talking about pills, patches and inhalers. They can be prescription or over the counter medications."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say prescription drug abuse now accounts for more fatal overdoses than cocaine and heroine combined. "These drugs are everywhere and for experimental teenagers or curious children, these drugs are as close as the family medicine cabinet," said Calcagni.
The three police departments involved in the project have agreed to maintain custody of the deposited drugs and will dispose of them according to their normal procedures for the custody and destruction of controlled dangerous substances. They will report the quantity of discarded drugs to the Division of Consumer Affairs on a quarterly basis.
If you're planning to get rid of the medications on your own, don't flush them down the toilet or throw them in the garbage can. "These are potentially dangerous drugs that no one wants in the water supply," said Calcagni. "You don't want to put them in the garbage can either because they can be found by those seeking to sell or abuse them."
Officials hope to eventually expand the project to all 21 counties.