This Saturday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, local law enforcement, community and tribal partners will give the public its 14th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

The public can dispose of their unused and unwanted prescription medications at one of 172 collection sites in the Pacific Northwest, operated by 148 local law enforcement agencies and other community partners. The public can locate nearby collection sites at or by calling 800-882-9539.

Only pills and other solids, like patches, can be brought to the collection sites - liquids and needles or other sharps will not be accepted.

The service is free and anonymous. No questions will be asked.

Last April, residents of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska turned in 35,137 pounds (17.6 tons) of prescription medications. This was the highest collection to date for the Pacific Northwest. The following are the results broken down by state:

*Washington - 15,148 pounds (7.6 tons) removed from circulation.

*Idaho -- 3,746 (1.9 tons) removed from circulation.

*Oregon -- 12,120 pounds (6.1 tons) removed from circulation. This was a record collection number for Oregon.

*Alaska -- 4,123 pounds (2.1 tons) removed from circulation.

"Disposing of leftover painkillers or other addictive medicines in the house is one of the best ways to prevent a member of your family from becoming a victim of the opioid epidemic," said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. "More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance."."

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

The DEA launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines - flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash - posed potential safety and health hazards.

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