‘Take Back’ med collection is set for Saturday

Photo by Karen Zautyk/ Unwanted or expired drugs – prescription and over-the-counter - can be turned in anonymously this Saturday.


By Karen Zautyk

You would NEVER get your kids, or grandkids, hooked on prescription drugs, or feed a drug habit, right? It’s unthinkable.
But the unthinkable is happening all the time. And with increasing frequency.
According to the latest data available, provided by a University of Michigan study, treatment admissions for prescription painkillers increased more than 400% between 1997 and 2007, and, from 2004 to 2008, the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms involving the non-medical use of narcotic painkillers increased 111%.
Often, the source of those drugs is not a pusher on the street, but the family medicine cabinet, which offers all too easy access to parents’ and grandparents’ prescription drugs.
This danger is the reason the Drug Enforcement Administration has enlisted the aid of police departments across New Jersey for Operation Take Back, a chance for the general public to properly dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medications.
The first such program was held September 2010, and more than 14,000 pounds (7 tons) of meds were turned in.
The 2011 collection is scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in communities throughout N.J.
One of the participating agencies is the Kearny Police Department, which in the 2010 effort collected 44 pounds of medications, a leader in the Hudson County results.

KPD Sgt. Tim Wagner and Officers Jack Corbett and Jack Grimm are coordinating the local effort. A collection bin will be available at the Juvenile Aid Bureau – entrance on the Forest St. side of the Laurel Ave. police headquarters.
From 10 to 2, you can go there and anonymously drop off your meds – both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. No questions asked, Wagner pointed out.
The police will accept not only pills and capsules, but also syrups and other liquids. And pet meds, too.
“If it’s a medicine, we’ll take it,” Wagner said. However, “sharps” – hypodermic needles and the like – will not be accepted.
“It’s completely anonymous, no asking for ID,” Wagner said. “Just drop it in.”
“But,“ he noted, “we do recommend that you scrape off the labels.”
All the drugs are then turned over to the DEA, which takes them to a central location for environmentally safe disposal.
In Nutley, the collection point Saturday will be at the Police Department HQ, 228 Chestnut St. In addition, senior citizens living in either the Nutley Senior Manor or the Nutley Parkside Apartments will be able to drop their used prescription drugs into a collection box located in their respective buildings, according to Mayor Joanne Cocchiola.
Cocchiola’s announcement of Nutley’s participation in Operation Take Back also emphasized the at-home dangers: “Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.”
So why not just dump them yourself? Because the “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.”
Harrison is another participant, with a collection bin at police headquarters, 318 Harrison Ave. (at the rear of the Town Hall).
“The abuse of prescription drugs is a concern for everyone,” said Chief Derek Kearns. “This type of intervention brings the issue to the forefront, while helping to reduce the availability of substances that could be misused.”
In Belleville, you can bring your meds to police headquarters at 152 Washington Ave., and in Lyndhurst, the collection point will be the PD mobile command post, which will be set up in the shopping plaza at 425 Valley Brook Ave. Lyndhurst residents seeking more information about the program are asked to contact Det. Vincent Auteri at 201-939-2900, ext. 2770.
You can also visit www.operationtakebacknj.com.
But remember. On Saturday, the hours for all collection points in all participating communities are firm: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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