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It’s Time Again to Clean-Out Your Medicine Cabinet

On Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. many local agencies will team-up with the Drug Enforcement Administration to give the public its 15th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

For more information about this event and to find locations where to drop off your unused medicines, go to https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.

Last fall Americans turned in 456 tons (912,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and almost 4,300 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 14 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 9 million pounds—more than 4,500 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. 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. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet.

In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

“Many people are not aware of the risks of prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” said Wellspring’s Executive Director and CEO Ezra Helfand, “and they are not aware of how common the abuse of these medications have become.”

New Jersey residents have the added benefit of “Project Medicine Drop”, an important component of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs efforts to halt the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs. It allows consumers to dispose of unused and expired medications anonymously, seven days a week, 365 days a year, at "prescription drug drop boxes" located within the headquarters of participating police departments. Go to http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/meddrop/pages/locations.aspx for more details, and for a list or permanent collection boxes in New Jersey.

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