Rock Ridge Pharmacy installs drug recycle box

Photo Credit: Madelyn Willoughby

Michelle Torpey opens the new prescription drug recycle box in Rock Ridge Pharmacy. She took initiative to help people dispose of addictive opioid drugs in Glen Rock. She raised money for this box with

Rock Ridge Pharmacy placed a MedReturn drug recycle box in-store to help lower recreational prescription drug use in Glen Rock and other surrounding towns.

MedReturn boxes, and other drug recycle boxes, are a safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs. If they are not discarded properly, they could cause incidents of drug abuse or be disposed of in a way that is not healthy for the environment.

Michelle Torpey, a licensed pharmacist in New York and New Jersey, took the initiative to put a safe drug disposal in Glen Rock. She had heard about incidents at the high school and had learned that Glen Rock, and Lincoln Avenue specifically, is nicknamed the “heroin highway” to Paterson.

As a pharmacist, she felt that many incidents involving opioids or other prescription drugs could be avoided if there were an accessible drug recycle box in Glen Rock. She spoke with Chief Dean Ackermann, who was supportive of installing one.

No one should have a false sense of security that this problem does not exist here in Glen Rock.”

— Police Chief Dean Ackermann

“Our officers are regularly seizing opioids and responding to overdoses.” Chief Ackermann said. “No one should have a false sense of security that this problem does not exist here in Glen Rock.”

Chief Ackermann feels that a drug disposal would be important to our town and others because forty people die from overdosing on narcotic prescription medications in the United States everyday, he said. As opioid problems become more present, he said that having a safe disposal will be essential. He hopes that this disposal will encourage people to dispose of unwanted medication that could be harmful to others.

In addition, Chief Ackermann said that The Glen Rock PD responded to five heroin overdoses in our community in 2016.

Chief Ackermann said that the Glen Rock PD was unable to place the box in its headquarters because it is only open to the public when their Records Bureau is open. Having the box outside the municipal building would be unsafe, and without 24/7 staffing at the Glen Rock PD, this location cannot be used.

After doing some research, Torpey learned that a new law allowed drug disposal boxes to be placed in local pharmacies.

The MedReturn box costed $800, and Torpey asked if the police would pay for the box. They said that they would talk to the prosecutor, but that it would be a long time before they had an answer. After a few months of waiting, Torpey decided to create a GoFundMe page to raise the money and posted it on the Glen Rockers Facebook group.

A few weeks later, Torpey was able to obtain the money and the box was unveiled on Oct. 6. At the opening, Torpey cut the ribbon with members of the Drug Alliance and Glen Rock residents in attendance. On the first day it was available, residents were already leaving unwanted prescriptions drugs in the drug recycle box.

Torpey hopes that the MedReturn box will help keep teens, children, senior citizens, and others safe from potentially dangerous prescription drugs in homes. She also said that having the box in a pharmacy rather than a police station will help lower the stigma of throwing away medication. In addition, a pharmacist in Rock Ridge Pharmacy would be able to answer questions that those dropping off medications have.

Danielle Helder is the student assistance counselor at the high school. As the student assistance counselor, students can come to Helder and talk to her privately. She has students talk to her about drugs, alcohol, and other important topics.

Helder believes that the success of this box depends on the security of the pharmacy. When a drug disposal is placed in a police station, it is going to be completely secure, Helder said. She believes that the way the drugs are disposed is important because those with drug issues may try to find a way to steal them.

In order to help people in Glen Rock with addiction or other drug related problems, Helder said that the community needs to get involved. She said that there needs to be a consistent message from parents and the community that illegal drug use is unacceptable no matter what the situation.