WEST ESSEX REGION, NJ – In conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Take Back Day on April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 17 Essex County municipalities will be participating in Drug Take Back Day, including Caldwell, North Caldwell, Essex Fells and Fairfield among others.
Drug Take Back Day will be held at 10 permanent collection sites in New Jersey and seven temporary collection sites at local municipal police departments throughout Essex County. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. encouraged the public to join in the cause, stating that ridding homes of unused prescription medication and dangerous drugs is a simple and important safety measure that anyone can take.
“Using the collection sites ensures your unwanted pills are not used improperly and will be destroyed in an environmentally friendly manner,” he said.
Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (more than 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 drop sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons.
According to Essex Fells Police Chief Vincent A. Kulik, 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, he said, 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 the home medicine cabinet.
At a press conference formally announcing the program in Essex County, elected officials, police chiefs, sheriffs and drug-abuse prevention coordinators also spoke up about the effectiveness of Drug Take Back Day.
“The Take Back Day and the permanent collection sites provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of medications while educating the general public about the potential for the abuse of medications,” said Joel Torres, Coordinator of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT). “We ask that residents clean out their medicine cabinet and visit their nearest permanent or temporary prescription medication collection site to discard their old or unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications."
April 30 will be the 11th opportunity in six years to prevent pill abuse by disposing of these of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. 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—poses potential safety and health hazards as well as causes an environmental impact.
Medication may be disposed of either in its original container or by removing medication from its container and disposing directly into the drug-disposal box. If the original container is submitted, residents are encouraged to remove the prescription label if it contains any personal identifying information.
Liquid products, such as cough medicine, should remain sealed in their original containers and the cap should be tightly sealed to prevent leakage. Syringes and other sharp instruments will not be accepted.
“I don’t finish prescriptions and I think everyone can relate to this. We all have some unused pills in our cabinets,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. “It’s not good for the environment to flush these pills down the toilet. The best thing is to bring them to these sites so they can be disposed of properly and safely."
Special Agent in Charge Carl Kotowski, from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration, noted that 80 percent of people using heroin began their addiction by abusing prescription medications. Kotowski encouraged all Essex County residents to use this unique opportunity to clean out their medicine cabinets.
“We encourage the public to take advantage of this service," said Essex Fells Police Chief Vincent Kulik, who is the Chairman of the Essex County Police Chief’s Association. "It’s important that you look at the expiration date of your medication and not save it. You never know who is taking your medications. This is a great way to dispose of them."
ADAPT, the Essex County Division of Community Health, and the DEA formed partnerships with 17 municipal police departments to serve as collection sites. Although officials urged the public to participate in Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 30, the permanent collection sites are open year-round so that unwanted medications can be safely discarded at the public’s convenience.
“This is a successful program because of everyone working together," said Livingston Police Officer Gary Mankowitz, who is the Chairman of the Essex County Crime Prevention Officers Association. "We have 10 permanent sites and eight temporary sites open on April 30, but I’d like to see locations in every municipality. This is that important an issue."
Permanent collection locations include:
- Belleville Police Department, 152 Washington Avenue, Belleville
- Caldwell Police Department, 1 Provost Square, Caldwell
- East Orange Police Department, 15 South Munn Avenue, East Orange
- Fairfield Police Department, 230 Fairfield Road, Fairfield
- Irvington Police Department, 1 Civic Square, Irvington
- Livingston Police Department, 333 South Livingston Avenue, Livingston
- Montclair Police, Department, 647 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair
- Newark Police Department, 480 Clinton Avenue, Newark
- North Caldwell Police Department, 136 Gould Avenue, North Caldwell
- Millburn Police Department, 435 Essex Street, Millburn
Temporary collection locations include:
- Cedar Grove Police Department, 525 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove
- Essex Fells Police Department, 255 Roseland Avenue, Essex Fells
- Glen Ridge Police Department, 3 Herman Street, Glen Ridge
- Nutley Police Department, 228 Chestnut Street, Nutley
- Orange Police Department, 29 Park Street, Orange
- Verona Police Department, 600 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona
- West Orange Police Department, 60 Main Street, West Orange
Residents can dispose of unused prescription drug medication by placing it in the marked collection sites. Dropping off medication is anonymous and safe.
Residents should remove any identifying information from the medication containers, such as their name, address, telephone number and doctor’s name. Medications that are collected are brought to a licensed facility, where they are safely disposed.