EDITORIAL: Take the 'American Medicine Chest Challenge'


EDITORIAL: Take the 'American Medicine Chest Challenge'


In what is often described as “a dangerous world,” one of the most potent dangers to families may be as near as the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

That danger is the potential for abuse of prescription drugs.

Back in September, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) team partnered with the Caldwell Police Department for the first time to educate senior residents of the Marian Manor apartments of about dangers of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. But this is an issue that strikes more than one demographic.

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in our country. The 2007 National Study of Drug Use and Health found that 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers indicated they got them from friends or relatives, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that upwards of 9 million people use prescription medication for non-medical uses.

These statistics are the motive behind the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s sixth annual “American Medicine Chest Challenge-New Jersey” on Saturday, Nov. 14 — a public health initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, and encourage the safe disposal of unneeded and often outdated prescription drugs in communities throughout the state. In addition to partnering with law enforcement to provide collection sites, the initiative prods families to take the “Five-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:”

• Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine;

• Secure your medicine chest;

• Dispose of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an “American Medicine Chest Challenge” disposal site;

• Take your medicines exactly as prescribed;

• Talk to your children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse — They are listening.

The “American Medicine Chest Challenge” is a community-based public health initiative, with law enforcement partnership, designed to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and provide a nationwide day of disposal — at a collection site or in the home — of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine, held on the second Saturday of November each year in communities across the country.

Locally, drop-off locations on Nov. 14 will include the Caldwell Police Department, 1 Provost Square Avenue, and the North Caldwell Police Department, 136 Gould Avenue.

“The American Medicine Chest Challenge can help save the lives of our children,” said Angelo M. Valente, executive director of Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. By participating in the Challenge, Valente said, “families throughout New Jersey are safeguarding their home from the potential misuse and abuse of medicine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled prescription drug abuse an epidemic, reporting that the death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade and more than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers.

Valente concluded the Nov. 14 Challenge is “an awakening to the dangers of prescription drug abuse and a call to action to safely dispose of unused, unwanted, and unneeded medicine.”

Families should take the opportunity to participate.