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(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) holds an annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back day aiming to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications.

Last September Americans emptied medicine cabinets, bedside tables, and kitchen drawers of unwanted, unused, and expired prescription drugs and took them to collection sites located throughout the United States as part of the DEA's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The DEA's state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, working at more than 5,263 locations, collected 488,395 pounds (244 tons) of prescription medications from members of the public. When added to the collections from DEA's previous four Take-Back events, more than two million pounds (1,018 tons) of prescription medications were removed from circulation.

This year's national collection date was Saturday, April 27. Due to the date falling on a weekend when the majority of the Picatinny community was not on the installation, the Picatinny Arsenal Department dedicated an entire week to taking back these medicines that may be hazardous or dangerous if ended up in the wrong hands.

Sgt. Mary Lou Atkins, Support Services Officer here reported that the Picatinny Arsenal Police Department collected more than 48 pounds of prescription drugs during the one-week campaign.

Atkins, a 12-year veteran of the department said that the program is fairly new and was surprised by the amount of turnins that her department received.

"It's a lot but it's a good thing. It "is is a positive. People are not flushing them down the toilets or in their sinks where it can end up in our drinking water."

According to the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs. That same study revealed more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.

Atkins turned all of the prescription medication over to the Morris County Public Safety Academy where it will be burned and destroyed. She states that the Arsenal will hold another prescription take back campaign in October.

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