Cutting off the widespread problem of illegal use of prescription drugs starts in your own medicine cabinet, officials said.
Tomorrow, that effort is a coordination of local law enforcement, hospitals and the DEA, as National rolls into Toms River, and more than 300 other towns around the state.
They are hoping residents drop off their unwanted, expired and unused prescriptions instead of leaving them at home. Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said those forgotten drugs are targets for relatives to abuse the drugs, and has also been fueling break-ins as criminals ransack medicine cabinets.
“It’s a grandchild raiding grandma’s medicine cabinet, then reselling or using the drugs,” said.
From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, you can drop off unused and expired prescriptions at the Toms River Police Department, Oak Avenue.
Last year, the program collected 14,000 pounds of drugs, and the year before it was 9,000 state-wide.
Douglas Collier, the public affairs director for the N.J. division of the DEA, said the program was put together through the coordination of Toms River Police.
“Toms River has been a big advocate of the program when it began three years ago,” Collier said. “The support of local police has been essential.”
Mastronardy said last year, Manchester topped Toms River as the town with the larger collection of drugs.
Collier said even one pound collected is a victory.
“We don’t think it’s a barometer of success, collecting more than last year,” he said. “Every thing we collect is both out of the stream of drugs being abused, and it’s also being disposed of in an environmentally safe way.”
He said it’s an issue of making drugs less available.
“There’s an availability, that won’t be there if we eliminate the available drugs found right in the home,” Collier said, adding that the drugs themselves are not the issue, but the street demand of them. “We believe in good medication but not bad behavior.”
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ said it is supporting the program for two reasons:
“The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet. In addition, it’s advised that usual methods of disposing unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – both pose potential safety and health hazards,” according to a HBCBS announcement.