FRIDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- If old prescription medications are gathering dust in your medicine cabinet, it's time to scoop them up and get rid of them safely.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has teamed up with local law enforcement agencies to hold the sixth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday. People can turn in their unwanted or expired prescription medications for free, with no questions asked. DEA officials explained that the event is an attempt to prevent the abuse, misuse or accidental ingestion of unused medications.
"Everything we do is geared toward protecting American families and communities," DEA administrator Michele Leonhart said in an agency news release. "We know that young people consider controlled-substance prescription drugs, like Vicodin, to be a safer way to get high, but they couldn't be more wrong. By removing unwanted prescription drugs from their homes, the public helps prevent experimentation, addiction, overdose and even death."
A national poll released earlier this week found that 24 percent of high school students -- more than 5 million teens -- have abused prescription medications.
And the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs is greater than the total number of Americans using cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Research has also shown that most abuse or misuse of prescription medications happens with drugs that are kept in medicine cabinets or received from friends or relatives.
On Saturday, the prescription medication collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, according to the DEA. Collection sites can be located by going to the DEA website.
Only solid medicines will be collected; liquids, injectables or needles can't be turned in at the collection sites, officials said.
The agency added that it has collected more than 1,000 tons of expired or unwanted prescription medications over the past three years.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about how to dispose of unused medications.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SOURCE: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, news release, April 25, 2013
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