Prescription drug collection Saturday to fight drug abuse


Police departments around the nation will participate in the 13th Operation Take Back on Saturday, an effort to prevent prescription drug abuse and theft, a contributing factor in the heroin epidemic sweeping the state.

“It’s reducing the availability of pills from people’s homes,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Timothy McMahon. “Medicine cabinets (of) family and friends are the No. 1 place people are obtaining these for illicit use.”

Anyone can bring their expired, unused or unwanted prescription pills for safe and anonymous disposal. Once the event is over, the pills are weighed and then incinerated.

“As a police department, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help prevent the abuse of prescription medications,” said Sea Isle City police Capt. Tom McQuillen.

In Sea Isle, municipal and school district officials have been promoting events that educate youth and adults about heroin. In October, the city hosted two information sessions aimed at parents and grandparents.

McQuillen said the shore town is not immune to the effects of the heroin epidemic. He said police have used the anti-overdose drug naloxone several times, and it has saved lives.

Operation Take Back, he said, is the police doing their “small part in this growing problem.”

“We just feel like there’s never enough that can be done to help alleviate this problem,” McQuillen said.According to McMahon, spokesman for the New Jersey Division of the DEA, the Take Back event started in New Jersey in 2009 with A Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

 “That was very successful,” he said. The next year, the program was put out nationwide. “Since its inception in 2009 — this is going to be our 13th one — New Jersey alone has collected 186,000 pounds,” McMahon said. 

He said that at the last Take Back day in October 2016, police in Cape May County collected 244 pounds of pills. Atlantic County collected 312 pounds and in Ocean County, 140 pounds were collected. During the fall event, a total of 12,457 pounds of prescription pills were collected in New Jersey.

Nationally, 7.7 million pounds have been collected since 2010.