MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Maplewood became the 18th town in Essex County to partner with ADAPT, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team, to introduce a Project Medicine drop box in the lobby of Maplewood’s Police Headquarters, 1618 Springfield Ave. The box allows residents to dispose of unused or unwanted drugs safely, instead of throwing them in the trash.
“The challenge is we have excess,” Mayor Frank McGehee said at the launch on Feb. 14. “They start accumulating. So people throw them out or flush them down the toilet, but that then gets into the water and the environment. We’ve been doing drug take-back days twice a year, but now it’s every day.”
Joel Torres, the manager of ADAPT, said in an interview with the News-Record at the launch that the drugs that are removed from the box are weighed before being taken to Newark to be incinerated.
“It avoids it having to go into the water supply, or stolen and sold on the streets,” Torres said. “It also avoids the issue of having it at home and someone taking it because of addiction.”
According to Torres, only pharmacies and police departments can accept unused drugs.
Chief Jimmy DeVaul said it was a process to get the box in Maplewood.
“We didn’t just get a mailbox and paint it white and put it here,” he said at the event. “We have a policy about who has access to it and a procedure about how to dispose of them.”
Pain relievers, antidepressants, sleep aids, behavior-modification medication, cough medicine, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins and supplements, inhalers, and antibiotics can be placed in the box.
“The more we can get this used, the more we can avoid having vulnerable populations like adolescents have those drugs,” Maplewood Health Officer Candice Davenport said at the event.
Photos by Amanda Valentovic