Toms River residents reached into their medicine cabinets and handed in about 200 pounds of prescription drugs on April 30.
As part of y, anyone could drop off their unwanted, unused and expired prescriptions to Toms River Police headquarters on Oak Avenue. More than 200 pounds were collected in the township, officials said, and 12,000 pounds were collected across New Jersey.
Saturday, April 30, was the day of the Prescription Drug Takeback Day, operated locally by the Toms River Police Department in conjunction with the New Jersey Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
During this time, local and state law enforcement come together with organizations such as Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, the New Jersey Prevention Network, and the Police Chiefs of New Jersey Association to try and deter in-home prescription drug abuse on a massive scale by asking people to empty their medicine cabinets and turn them into their local authorities.
In Toms River, the turnout was fantastic, according to DEA Public Affairs Director Douglas Collier.
“We collected over 200 pounds of unused or expired drugs,” he said. “Response to the program has been significant. We just did one of these events in September in New Jersey and seven months later we were still able to get 12,000 more pounds of unused or expired medication from people.”
Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said the prescriptions don’t sit around for long once collected. “The DEA incinerates the drugs in a safe and environmental way,” he said.
Collier said the drugs were destroyed on Tuesday, and are out of the stream of possible targets for drug abusers.
“All of those drugs could have been abused, disposed of improperly, or resold and instead they’re being incinerated and that makes us proud,” Collier said.
The program is conducted for two main reasons, according to Collier: “Awareness and a safe environmental way to discard the drugs,” he said.
“We don’t want people to flush them down the toilet, or for them to find their way into the waterways," Collier said. "We are also conscious about our ecosystem and don’t want to harm it.”
According to Collier, every year seven out of 10 people who use these medications for nonmedical purposes get them from a friend or family member’s medicine cabinet.
To reduce that statistic, Collier, the DEA, and the police department “want you to secure your medication in a safe location that only you know,” he said. “The only people in your home who should take the prescription medicines are the ones to whom they are prescribed as directed by their physicians.”
Twelve thousand pounds is a lot of drugs, but there are a lot more still out there, officials said. If you missed Saturday’s event, you will have another chance in about six to seven months, said Collier.
However, we may not have to wait that long in the future, says Mastronardy. “We’re working with the DEA to create a program with more availability between events, but for right now, we urge anyone who has them to store them safely until the next Take Back Day.”
Although the DEA has not yet set a specific date for the next event, Collier hinted toward another Take Back Day in the fall.