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As Drug 'Epidemic' Surges, Cops Ask Residents to Toss Prescriptions

Drug abuse, a serious local problem, has increased recently in Wyckoff and police are asking for the public's help

In the wake of an increase in drug abuse in the township, and in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Wyckoff Police Department will be conducting a program called Operation Take Back at Wyckoff Town Hall on Saturday, Sept. 29.

“Prescription drug abuse is a serious national epidemic and it has skyrocketed over the years,” said Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox. “It's going on right here in Wyckoff. Our upscale suburban community is not immune from this.”

Prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet are addictive, deadly, and often serve as gateway drugs leading users to turn to heroin, which gives them a similar high, said Fox.

“Years ago, the police did not see Wyckoff residents abusing heroin,” said Fox. “Heroin was previously always thought to be used by some junkie on the streets of an inner city. Not anymore. It's used in Wyckoff at a rate beyond what most people believe.”

Fox said Wyckoff police have gone on medical calls where the patient is found with a needle dangling out of their arm following an overdose of heroin. They’ve also sent about six people to the hospital this year alone for heroin or prescription drug overdose.

“We deal with a lot of domestic violence and family issues in Wyckoff,” said Fox. “Drugs and alcohol are a common denominator in many of those calls.”

Operation Take Back will be conducted at Wyckoff Town Hall on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 to 2 p.m. Residents can drop off any of their unused, expired drugs, or over-the-counter medications at The Wyckoff Police Department — the police officers will then safely dispose of the drugs. 

“The drugs are turned over to the DEA and incinerated,” said Fox. “Residents can bring their prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs to us in their original containers if they wish. Everything is burned and destroyed.”

Sgt. Michael Musto has been running the Take Back program for years and has collected 516 pounds of drugs for destruction, according to Fox. The program not only helps to dispose of medications, but it’s also the first step in preventing prescription drug abuse and accidental overdose.

“This program keeps drugs out of the water system because previously people flushed them in the toilet or disposed of them with regular trash,” said Fox. “It also gets the drugs out of your home to prevent children and young adults from taking them and perhaps abusing them.”

Fox advised parents against leaving medication in cabinets, where anyone has access to them, and to lock up or get rid of old drugs. Parents also need to monitor their children’s activities, and have discussions with kids if they believe that their child may be using drugs.

Learn more about prescription drug dependence from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Nj woman September 28, 2012 at 01:09 PM
They are doing the right thing!!! Great town!
Richard Sorce September 28, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Could be the taxes!
Iris September 28, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I have one other suggestion for homeowners to do: Before taking any used or expired medication to the police station, take off the labels. This way, no one knows who you are and what medication is in the bottle.
patch adams September 29, 2012 at 05:19 PM
it is pretty rediculous... having to walk down wyckoff ave and find ripped up heroin bags littering the streets usually outside 78 wyckoff ave. you know who you are!!

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