Addiction begins in the medicine cabinet. New Jersey authorities have announced the expansion of “Project Medicine Drop”, a program that allows secure disposal of leftover prescription drugs.

The expansion includes a partnership with Covanta Energy Corporation, a New Jersey-based business that will enable police departments, free of charge, to destroy medications turned in by consumers. It also includes the installation of new Project Medicine Drop boxes at the Cherry Hill Police Department, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, Lower Township Police Department, and Toms River Police Department – more than doubling the program’s capacity to receive consumers’ unwanted and expired medications.

“Prescription painkiller abuse sends thousands of New Jersey residents into addiction treatment each year, and kills more Americans than cocaine and heroin combined. We are fighting this problem with targeted investigations and enhanced tools to detect ‘pill mills’ and ‘doctor shopping,’” Attorney General Jeff Chiesa said.

Under Project Medicine Drop, the Division of Consumer Affairs installs lockable, metal “prescription drug drop boxes” at select New Jersey police departments and sheriff’s offices. Members of the public are invited to come in and use the boxes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to dispose of their unused and expired prescription medications.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said, “The DEP strongly supports this initiative, which will provide a secure and environmentally sound method of prescription drug disposal, and one that will help protect our water supply.”

Prescription painkiller abuse sends thousands of New Jersey residents into addiction treatment each year and kills more people than cocaine and heroine combined.

Linda Surks knows all too well about the growing trend of prescription drug abuse. Nine years ago her 19 year-old son died of a drug overdose.

“He had the mis-perception as many people do that because they are legal drugs they are safer to abuse than other drugs.”

Surks, who now works with the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, says the expansion of “Project Medicine Drop” is important.

“This program helps by getting a lot of medications out of homes that people don’t even know about or forgotten that was there.”

The goal is to have a drop box in all 21 counties by year’s end.