The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has developed Project Medicine Drop as an important component of its effort 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.
Each Project Medicine Drop box is installed indoors, affixed to the floor or wall in a secure area within police department headquarters, within view of law enforcement officers, in an area to which members of the public may be admitted to dispose of their unused medications. Their prominent "Project Medicine Drop" logos make the boxes highly visible and recognizable.
This initiative builds on the success of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Take Back Initiative, and the American Medicine Chest Challenge, which is sponsored in New Jersey by the DEA, Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, and Sheriffs' Association of New Jersey. Both programs provide single-day opportunities to drop off unused medications at pre-identified, secure locations.
Project Medicine Drop provides the opportunity to discard unused prescription medications every day throughout the year. The participating police agencies maintain custody of the deposited drugs, and dispose of them according to their normal procedures for the custody and destruction of controlled dangerous substances. They report the quantity of discarded drugs to the Division of Consumer Affairs on a quarterly basis.
The Division plans to expand the program in 2015, to include police departments in each of New Jersey's 21 counties.
The facts and statistics about prescription drug abuse are staggering:
- Every day, 40 Americans die from an overdose caused by prescription painkiller abuse, according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control. Overdoses of opioid prescription drugs now kill more people in the U.S. than heroin and cocaine combined.
- Two in five teenagers mistakenly believe prescription drugs are "much safer" than illegal drugs, according to the DEA, and three in 10 teens mistakenly believe prescription painkillers are not addictive.
- In the United States, every day 2,500 youths take a prescription pain reliever for the purpose of getting high for the very first time, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
- The US Drug Enforcement Administration reports that prescription drugs, including opioids and antidepressants, are responsible for more overdose deaths than "street drugs" such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines.
- The number of American teenagers and adults who abuse prescription drugs is greater than those who use cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, compiled by the US Department of Health and Senior Services.
- In June 2011, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation reported that a growing number of young people are abusing prescription drugs, and noted a significant trend in which the practice has led to increases, not only in the number of young people addicted to painkillers, but to the number of young people using heroin as well.