Take the American Medicine Chest 5 Step Challenge This Saturday

The 6th Annual American Medicine Chest Challenge National Day of Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse and Safe Disposal will be held on this Saturday, November 14th. Information on locations to safely dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine can be found on the American Medicine Chest Challenge website or by downloading the AMCC Rx Drop mobile app.

As we approach the AMCC, I continue to encourage families throughout our state to take the 5-Step Challenge. I’m also looking back on how far we have come and so much has been achieved – hundreds of permanent disposal sites have been installed and thousands of tons of prescription drugs have been collected.   Yet, we are still in the midst of an epidemic of opiate abuse and the need has continued to expand ever since New Jersey held the first statewide day of disposal in the nation.

When we began addressing this issue back in 2009, the answer seemed simple, dispose of the unused medicine in your home and prevent it from being diverted and abused by the young people in your life. Safe disposal opportunities have expanded in New Jersey, and now, residents in over 200 communities across our state have safe and convenient access to a medicine disposal location. The DEA recently reinstated their Drug-Take Back Day to provide additional opportunities and the partners we have in the media are working hard to get the message out about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. We still know that this is a key step in preventing prescription drug abuse, but now we must address the epidemic of opioid abuse on all fronts. Heroin overdoses are on the rise across the country and New Jersey is ground zero.

According to a report released this past summer by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin use has increased across the US among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. The report found that the strongest risk factor for heroin use is prescription drug abuse and that the greatest increases in heroin abuse have occurred in groups with historically lower rates of heroin use, including women, people with private insurance, and higher incomes.

New Jersey has worked to address the issue in the 21 bill package introduced by Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vitale to tackle the heroin and prescription drug epidemic that is occurring across our state. One measure requires practitioners to have a conversation with their patient about the risks of developing a physical or psychological dependence before prescribing. Another, which is now law, requires physicians to utilize the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

There are many ways we can work together to prevent opiate abuse, and stem the tide of this epidemic, and on Saturday, November 14th, we can start in our own homes. Please encourage all of those in your community, workplace, family, and home to take the 5-Step Challenge:

1. Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine.

2. Secure your medicine. 

3. Dispose of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.

4. Take your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed. Please visit PhRMA for more information.

5. Talk to your children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse... they are listening.

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