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River Vale police Project Medicine Drop collects more than 700 pounds of unused medication in 2014

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

PUBLIC SAFETY: River Vale police more than doubled the amount of expired and unused medications disposed in its Project Medicine Drop box last year.

The 705 pounds brought in — more than a third of a ton — represented a 125% increase over the 312 pounds collected in 2013, the department’s first year with the program instituted by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

“Prescription drug abuse has become an alarming issue in New Jersey and beyond,” Police Chief William Giordano said. “We are proud to provide this resource as a means to help safeguard our residents and the community at large.”

More than 100 police departments, sheriff’s offices and State Police barracks have the secure drop boxes, allowing citizens to dispose of prescription drugs anonymously, no questions asked, any time of day.

The venture has been a huge success, state officials say.

“We are seeing [a] strong and growing demand from New Jersey residents who understand the potential dangers posed by unused medications, and who wish to dispose of them safely and securely,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said last fall.

Fair Lawn police announced their participation today.

That gives Bergen 16 Project Medicine Drop locations, more than any other county in the state, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said (Ocean County is second, with 11; Monmouth has eight).

This is because of a “deep commitment” on the parts of the county Department of Health Service and Municipal Alliance Program, its Office of Alcohol and Drug Dependency, his office and police departments countywide to fight heroin and prescription drug abuse, he said.

“Direct engagement with the public is an important key to preventing and reducing the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs,” Teaneck Acting Police Chief Robert A. Carney said.

* * * * * *

BERGEN PROJECT MEDICINE DROP POLICE LOCATIONS:

Allendale PD / (201) 825-1900
Dumont PD / (201) 387-5000
Fair Lawn PD / (201) 794-5365
Lodi PD / (973) 473-7600
Leonia PD / (201) 944-0800
Montvale PD / (201) 391-4600
Oakland PD / (201) 337-6171
Palisades Park PD / (201) 944-0900
Paramus PD / (201) 262-3400
Park Ridge PD / (201) 391-5400
Ridgefield PD / (201) 943-5210
River Vale PD / (201) 664-2346
Teaneck PD / (201)-837-2600
Tenafly PD / (201) 568-5100
Washington Township / (201) 664-1140
Waldwick PD / (201) 652-5700

* * * * * *

Covanta Energy, a nationwide operator of energy-from-waste and renewable energy facilities, destroys the dropped-off medications from across New Jersey at no cost to taxpayers or to the participating police departments.

Before this, most people flushed their unused prescription drugs down the toilet, threw them in the trash, or kept them in the household medicine cabinet. This contaminated the water supply, helped start and feed habits — often for children — and tempted thieves.

“The medication can either be disposed of in its original container or can be removed from its container and placed in the disposal box,” Fair Lawn Police Sgt. Brian Metzler said. “Liquid products should be disposed of in its original container with the cap tightly sealed, to prevent leakage.”

The drop box method is “anonymous and made to protect anonymity,” Lyndhurst Capt. John Valente said. “No questions or requests for identification will be made.”

In fact, Valente said, you should “remove the prescription label if it contains any personal identifying information.”

New Jersey last year had nearly 6,700 admissions to state-licensed or certified substance abuse treatment programs due to prescription drug abuse, an increase of nearly 300% over the past decade.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 6.8 million Americans currently abuse pharmaceutical controlled substances – almost twice as much as the combined number of those who use cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and/or inhalants.

Nearly 110 Americans die every day from drug-related overdoses, and about half of those overdoses are related to opioids, a class of drug that includes prescription painkillers and heroin.

In addition, 22,134 Americans died in 2011 from overdoses of prescription medications, including 16,651 from narcotic painkillers, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The government warns that the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

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