Our youth desperately need to become aware of the serious dangers caused by the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. According to the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), every day over 2,500 youngsters age 12 to 17 try a painkiller for the first time, and statistics show that teens abuse prescription drugs more than any illicit street drug except marijuana.
Another frightening statistic highlights the fact that a vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, according to an Associated Press investigation. In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas—from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville. (USA Today, 3/11/08). This is a serious problem that affects millions of people in our state!
Thanks to the involvement of one of our fundholders, we have become aware of the good works done by Operation Medicine Cabinet, which is a professional, comprehensive, pre-packaged public safety and environmental awareness program designed to prevent the misuse and abuse of unwanted over-the-counter and prescription medications, and to keep them out of communities’ water supplies.
To date, 128 local police departments from 18 counties in New Jersey have agreed to participate in Operation Medicine Cabinet New Jersey. This overwhelming response to the request by the federal government’s DEA demonstrates the widespread enthusiasm and support for this first-in-the-nation state-wide amnesty day to dispose of unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs.
The DEA and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey need your help in encouraging police chiefs who have not yet responded in your town to consider joining this exciting and important effort. Please check the attached list (PDF file) to see if your town has joined.
The eyes of the nation are watching New Jersey as we join together in our coordinated and continuing efforts to protect our children from the abuse of prescription drugs and, in particular, access to unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs in medicine cabinets throughout our state.