CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — It’s a terrible story, but one too often told, DEA Agent Nicholas Kolen said.

A high school athlete hurts his leg playing soccer, goes to the doctor and gets a prescription for opiates.

“The next thing we know, they’re addicted,” Kolen said. “Once these opiates hijack these people’s brains, they change. They’re not the same people we thought they were. They’re now in a whole different world fighting to keep that addiction going.”

Often, opioid addictions spring from a prescription for pain killers, whether they’re misused by the person they’re prescribed to or found in a medicine cabinet and used by a friend or family member, Kolen explained.

Cape May County, which has a high ranking history in the state for opioid prescriptions as well as overdose deaths, took a step forward in the fight against the opioid epidemic Wednesday by becoming New Jersey’s first county to deploy prescription drop boxes in all 12 police stations, including the State Police barracks in Woodbine.

In 2017, Cape May County saw the most opioid prescriptions dispensed for every resident in the state, at a ratio of one prescription for every resident, according to state Attorney General statistics released in September.

Gerald M. Thornton, freeholder director, said that the drop boxes are a step “that makes everyone responsible.”

“Even though we’re a small county, we have all those problems, just like every other county and town in this nation, and we try to address it,” he said. “But I can tell you that the real responsibility that we have has to be reinforced by families and those individuals.”

The drop boxes, made from repurposed mail boxes, are painted with the phrase: “For too many New Jerseyans, addiction begins in the medicine cabinet.”

Residents can bring their expired or unused medications, with the label torn off, and drop them in, anytime, no questions asked.