BERGENFIELD, NJ – As the Garden State grapples with a growing prescription drug and opioid addiction epidemic, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker encouraged New Jerseyans to take advantage of tomorrow’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and to discard all unwanted narcotic pain killers and other prescription drugs at participating local police stations and county prosecutor’s offices. Law enforcement agencies across the country are partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to serve as collection sites where residents can turn in their unused or expired medications, including narcotic painkillers and other opioids, for safe disposal.
“Too often, prescription drug abuse and addiction begins in our own medicine cabinet,” said Sen. Menendez. “To protect our children, loved ones, and even ourselves from the dangers of prescription drug and opioid abuse, it’s important to toss out medications we no longer need. We must each do our part to help curb our national addiction epidemic that has taken too many lives and torn too many families apart.”
“Opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions here in New Jersey,” said Sen. Booker. “According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, about 70 percent of new abusers of pain relievers obtained their pills from a friend or relative, which is why disposing of unneeded medications is so important. By raising awareness about the importance of strategies as simple as safely getting drugs out of our medicine cabinets and our homes, we can help to stem some of the abuse that is wreaking havoc on our communities. I applaud the leadership here in Bergenfield for taking this important step in helping to address this national epidemic, and I hope we will be able to replicate programs like this one throughout the state.”
The Senators were joined by State Assemblymen Joseph Lagana and Tim Eustace, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, local law enforcement officials, drug addiction advocates, and Victor, an 18-year-old recovering prescription drug addict from Clifton, at a news conference in Bergenfield, where he and the Partnership for a Drug Free N.J. presented the police department with a permanent drop-box to allow it to become a designated Permanent Drop Location to serve residents 24/7, 365 days a year.
“Bergenfield isn’t immune to the national heroin and opioid epidemic and National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is an opportunity for residents to safely dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs, which too often are abused and lead to addiction,” said Bergenfield Police Capt. Mustafa Rabboh. “I want to thank Sen. Menendez and Drug Free N.J. for providing Bergenfield with a permanent drop box. Becoming a designated permanent drop location will allow our department to be more responsive to our citizens by accepting their unused medications for disposal beyond just the one day.”
“With prescription drug abuse at epidemic levels in New Jersey, it is important for families to understand the importance of disposing excess medicines that can be a danger lurking in the family home and provide a safe, convenient, and legal option for their disposal. Bergenfield residents will now have more opportunities to safeguard their homes from prescription drug abuse,” Angelo M. Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, explained.
To locate a site new you, visit the DEA’s website at: https://goo.gl/6WXyPz
"Today we are in Bergenfield to recognize National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on the one year anniversary of legislation to expand Project Medicine Drop, sponsored by Assemblyman Eustace and I, being signed into law. We must continue our efforts to reduce the devastating impact of heroin and opioid addiction by tackling prescription drug abuse with measures like increasing the availability of pill drop boxes in our communities," said Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-38).
“As the sponsor of the legislation that codified project medicine drop into law I'm extremely displeased with the speed at which these boxes are being installed across the State. I'm grateful that our Senators realize the importance of giving these unused drugs a safe and easily accessible disposal. Our upcoming State budget must include money to expand this program more rapidly,” said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38).
Sens. Menendez and Booker cosponsored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which passed the Senate in March. Among its provisions, the legislation provides resources to states to expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription drugs and to develop better monitoring systems for prescription drug use, makes naloxone more widely available to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help prevent overdoses and save lives, creates an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program, and sets national treatment standards.
Last month, the Senators convened a statewide summit to explore solutions to the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic gripping New Jersey and the nation. They were joined by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09), federal and state officials, law enforcement, medical experts, addiction services providers, and mental health advocates. Menendez held another strategy session in the fall to discuss drug treatment options and programs, access to medications, and explore ways the federal government can help.
In February, the Sen. Menendez pressed U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell during a Senate Finance Committee hearing and expanding access to medication assisted treatment options, which led HHS a month later to move to double the current patient limit for qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders.