STATE – On Nov. 13, the American Medicine Chest Challenge — a public health initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and a statewide day of disposal of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine — was held in 100 communities throughout New Jersey, and resulted in thousands of residents disposing of over a ton of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine.
The event was held through the coordination of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey, Drug Enforcement Administration New Jersey Division and local police departments.
The challenge was created to help New Jersey families see their medicine cabinets through new eyes — as an access point for potential misuse and abuse of over-the-counter and prescription medicine by young people and to provide an opportunity to properly dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicines and encourage families to take the five step American Medicine Chest Challenge, explained Angelo M. Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and Chief Executive Officer of the event.
“While we are very proud of the efforts to collect hundreds of thousands of pills, equating to the weight of an average eighth grade class, what is most important is protecting one child from accessing and abusing even one pill,” said Valente.
“The Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey sees daily the ravaging effects of young people abusing prescription drugs. The American Medicine Chest Challenge provided New Jersey residents with an opportunity to take steps to protect our children,” said Sheriff Frank Provanzano, president of the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey.
“DEA-NJ was proud to collaborate with the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. It is only through partnerships and collaboration like we have seen with the American Medicine Chest Challenge that we can truly make a difference in eliminating the access to drugs that our abused in our communities,” said Acting Special Agent-in-Charge John G. McCabe.
“Prescription drug abuse is a serious threat to New Jersey families,” according to Valente. He noted that according to the recently released New Jersey Department of Education Annual Violence and Vandalism Report prescription drug abuse by New Jersey students has increased by 22% this year.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey 2010 Middle School Parent Tracking Study showed that 41% of parents of New Jersey middle school students said they know little or just about nothing about prescription drug abuse and only 4 in 10 parents secure their medicine chests. SAMHSA’s 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, the same survey showed that the scale of the problem is vast: more than 6 million Americans used a prescription medication for nonmedical purposes in the past 30 days. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, there has been a 400% increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for people abusing prescription drugs.
“The American Medicine Chest 5-step challenge will help save the lives of our children,” Valente said. “The steps include taking inventory of your medicine, securing your medicine chest, taking medicine only as prescribed by your doctor, disposing unused, unwanted, and expired medicine, and most importantly, talking to your children about the dangers of prescription drugs.” Information on the 5-Step Challenge and how to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in the home is available on americanmedicinechest.com
According to Jeff Bond, senior vice president for state government affairs at PhRMA, a challenge founding sponsor, “With prescription drug abuse on the rise, it is important to have safe solutions for consumer disposal of unused medicines in their own home or through a community program in order to avoid the possibility that someone steals or misuses that medication.“
American College of Emergency Physicians president, Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP, also a challenge sponsor, said, “Prescription drugs are the most abused drugs in America other than marijuana, and parents are the first line of defense between kids and the prescription medications.”
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