Efforts are being stepped up across the Garden State to encourage people to properly dispose of prescription painkillers.

Information about drug disposal drop boxes is being given to pharmacies across Atlantic county, so they can share it with their customers.

Brian Wilson, the project coordinator for Join Together Atlantic County, said the idea is to keep prescription medications out of the hands of people who are misusing them. In addition, they're looking to keep drugs out of the water and environment.

In other words, unused medicines should not be flushed down the toilet.

“That’s because then it gets into our water systems, and then we’re ultimately ingesting all kinds of stuff — it’s just not good," he said.

He explained his group is reaching out to all 55 pharmacies in Atlantic County.

“We’re asking them to display posters that have information about what is the permanent prescription drop box and where are they available," he said.

Angelo Valente, the executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, said this kind of effort is extremely important because when someone develops a dependency on painkillers, “the medicine cabinet is one of the first places they’ll go to, to look for and get access to opioid medications they might not be getting anymore from doctors.”

Valente said similar information campaigns are starting to take place in other parts of the state as well.

“If people visit the American Medicine Chest Challenge website ... there’s actually a directory of all locations throughout New Jersey that they can get access to," he said.

Wilson stressed with the opioid abuse epidemic continuing, "it’s very important that we educate people about proper drug disposal so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. It ultimately prevents overdose or misuse.”

He said for security reasons, all of the drop boxes except one are in police stations in South Jersey, and they are all monitored 24-7.

One drop box located in Buena Vista town Hall is secured by the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Department.

Wilson noted in addition to the drop boxes, New Jersey residents can also get special drug disposal pouches for at-home use.

“You simply open them up, add their medications and fill it a quarter of the way with water, and after you shake it up and wait 30 seconds, the drugs are rendered completely inactive — and then you simply throw the pouch away in the garbage," he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com