N.J. offers 100 collection centers to dispose of prescription drugs this weekend


N.J. offers 100 collection centers to dispose of prescription drugs this weekend

Published: Thursday, November 11, 2010, 7:35 AM
illegal-prescription-drugs-program.jpgGerard P. McAleer, special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Agency New Jersey Division holds prescription drugs that were collected in the program last year.

At 15, Corey Stevens began abusing prescription drugs, procuring pills from neighbors and friends. A job cleaning homes turned into an opportunity to rummage through peoples’ medicine cabinets.

By 17, he was stealing Oxycontin from his grandfather, who had skin cancer.

"It was surprisingly easy. But I think about it now — it’s terrible," said Stevens, 19, who is currently in a drug treatment center. Stevens shared his story at a news conference Wednesday to help announce a one-day initiative for safely disposing of unused, unwanted and expired medicine.

The program, "American Medicine Chest Challenge," takes place Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 100 collection centers throughout New Jersey. It is a community-based effort to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse — especially among the young — and a collaboration of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey.

Abuse of prescription painkillers now ranks second behind marijuana as the most prevalent illegal drug problem, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In Essex County, Sheriff Armando Fontoura said his narcotics bureau seized 44,000 doses of illegal prescription drugs in the last 15 months. "Increasingly, we are seeing more and more prescription drugs for sale on our streets," Fontoura said.

The problem extends to teenagers, who can "access these drugs in the comfort and privacy of their homes," the sheriff said. "It’s as easy as opening a cupboard, a drawer or a medicine cabinet."

Prescription drug drop-off locations, including five in Essex County, can be found atwww.americanmedicinechest.com or by calling (877) 919-2622.