Addiction prevention advocates are teaming with local pharmacists this month to better educate customers and patients on how to dispose medications, especially opioid prescriptions.
Members of Join Together Atlantic County, a substance misuse prevention coalition, will visit pharmacies throughout the county to provide education and materials about safe disposal of medications and information about substance use disorder.
“This is obviously an extremely important issue considering the opioid epidemic we are facing today,” said Brian Wilson, coalition project coordinator. “The environmental and community impact that proper medication disposal has is immeasurable.”
Coalition members will target 55 pharmacies during the initiative, which started Thursday and will take place over the next several weeks.
The opioid epidemic has hit New Jersey communities particularly hard. State experts estimate 2016 overdose deaths eclipsed 2015’s toll of 1,587 people, most of whom died from taking heroin or prescription opioids, data from the state Medical Examiner’s Office show.
Per 100 people in New Jersey, 52.6 prescriptions were filled in 2016, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wilson said working with pharmacists to spread information about proper medication disposal can help keep opioids and other prescription drugs from getting into the wrong hands and help protect the environment.
Join Together Atlantic County members also will provide pharmacists with information on how customers can access any of the 17 permanent prescription drop boxes throughout the county. People can drop any unwanted unused or expired medications in the boxes.
More than 3,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been disposed of in the drop boxes during the past two years, Wilson said. The boxes are located in several police departments and other buildings, structures and areas.
The coalition is funded by a Drug Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. For more information, visit jtacnj.org or call 609-272-0100.
Contact: 609-272-7022 NLeonard@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressNLeonard