Atlantic City is the latest police department to join a state initiative to curb prescription medicine abuse by offering drop boxes where residents can discard their unwanted pills.

“Nationwide, more than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from friends or relatives,” Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said in a press release. “With this program, we encourage you to take responsibility for the medications in your home — and safely dispose of those you no longer need.”

The newest drop box will be inside the Atlantic City Police Department. Other drop boxes have been put in police departments in Lower Township in Cape May County and Vineland in Cumberland County. Every county across the state has at least one drop box location. The others can be found at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/meddrop/locations.htm

Drop boxes are metal containers that resemble mailboxes, allowing consumers to drop off their unused, excess or expired medication. The program keeps medication from being used by someone other than to whom it was prescribed. It also prevents the medication from being flushed into the water supply or discarded as trash and potentially polluting the environment.

Last year, New Jersey had 8,600 admissions to state-licensed or certified substance-abuse treatment programs involving prescription painkillers — an increase of more than 700 percent since the start of the decade, according to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Every day, 40 people in the United States die from prescription painkiller abuse, officials said.

Similar programs have been implemented across the country and are supported by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its National Take-Back Initiative.

Contact Hoa Nguyen:

609-272-7203