YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The final tally is complete: More than a ton and a half of prescription medications were turned in at three dozen police stations in Bergen County — with no questions asked — this past weekend, and the most came from Wyckoff .
Of the 3,046 pounds of drugs collected countywide, Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox said 181 people brought 417 pounds to borough headquarters — nearly 14% of Bergen’s entire haul.
Fox praised Detective Sgt. Michael Musto ( inset, above ), who headed his department’s take back effort.
More than 2 million pounds of prescription medications were turned in during five previous collections over the past three years, under the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Take Back Day program.
Federal authorities say the program has helped prevent addiction, overdose deaths and the diversion of drugs to street dealers. An estimated 6.1 million Americans abused prescription drugs in 2011 and that about 20,000 people a year die from prescription drug overdoses, they say.
“We will never arrest our way out of this epidemic,” U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman said.
Seventy percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers “got them through friends or relatives the most recent time they used them, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet,” the government said in a news release.
The drugs collected by the various police departments are turned over to the DEA and incinerated.
“This controlled destruction of the drugs keeps them from improperly being destroyed when dumped in toilets, sinks or the trash; and having the medications then enter the water stream,” Fox noted. “Additionally, getting rid of unused drugs prevents children from improperly accessing and potentially abusing prescription drugs that might be in the home.”
Pharmaceutical drug abuse has become such an epidemic in middle-class America that enough painkillers were prescribed last year to medicate every American adult around the clock for a month, the national Centers for Disease Control says. Vicodin, Percocet, Klonopin and other medications are becoming the drugs of choice for abusers nationwide.
More than 70 percent of people aged 12 and older who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, compared with five percent who obtained them from drug dealers or online, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Our unprepared loved ones can be supplied by their best friends at school, unsecured medicine cabinets in our households, and even some medical professionals who choose to traffic pills for profit,” said Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA office in New Jersey.
PHOTO ABOVE: Courtesy WYCKOFF PD
PHOTO BELOW: Courtesy FAIR LAWN PD: Interim Fair Lawn Police Chief Glen Cauwels (l.), Capt. Robert Kneer, following takeback at borough Municipal Building
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