Operation Medicine Cabinet goal: Get rid of unused Rx meds

Organization urges people to get rid of medications that are no longer needed

BY DAN NEWMAN Staff Writer

With 22 locations countywide already, Operation Medicine Cabinet is spreading the word that it wants to make sure that children and teens do not have access to dangerous prescription medications that were not prescribed for them and could potentially harm or kill them.

The initiative, started earlier this year, is a partnership with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) of Middlesex County and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“We’ve had help from so many people, and everybody involved wants to make sure that prescription drugs do not fall into the wrong hands,” said Linda Surks, a preventionist with the county’s NCADD. “The primary goal is to really raise awareness of prescription drug abuse, because medications in the home can easily be diverted to young children.”

Surks knows the dangers of prescription drugs falling into the wrong hands. In 2003 her son Ryan, age 19 at the time, died from a prescription drug overdose.

“Right around the time, things really started to escalate, as far as prescription drug use and younger kids starting to use pills,” Surks explained. “I was lucky enough at the time to be working in the field as a preventionist, and so I really thought I could help others with this problem.”

One of the ways that Operation Medicine Cabinet wants to help out is by having people clean out their medicine cabinets and bring their unused medicine to their local collection site, which can be found at www.operationmedicinecabinetnj.com.

“People need to know the dangers that are out there when it comes to prescription medications,” Surks said. “We will provide any information to anyone that would like some concerning the event. It’s important to get rid of the medicine that you no longer need or use.”

Steve Liga, chief executive officer of the county’s NCADD, said that sometimes parents aren’t concerned.

“Medicine needs to be handled with care, because kids know where to find it sometimes,” Liga said. “Kids shouldn’t be near this stuff. We want people to come out on November 14 and discard their excess medications that they may have just lying around at home.”

For more information, go to www.ncadd-middlesex.org.