AUSTIN, Texas - Twice a year, the Drug Enforcement Administration hosts National Take Back Day, allowing people to clean out their medicine cabinets and safely turn in unused and expired prescription drugs that are plaguing U.S. families.

The Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force was right there at 35 locations throughout Texas Oct. 26 to educate, take in and help the process at a main distribution collection warehouse nearly 33 tons of pills.

"This event is meaningful to our task force members because it gives them the opportunity to be proactive and help clean up the community," said Staff Sgt. Stephany Coleman, a Texas Counterdrug assistant team leader. "This event allows them to interact with DEA agents and see how much drugs get dropped off."

The DEA's Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

"The event helps the community by preventing overdose deaths and drug addictions," said Coleman. "Discarding unused or expired medications can keep accidents from happening to young children or adolescents."

Houston, the largest municipality in Texas and fourth-largest in the nation, collected more than 17,000 pounds of prescription drugs before they could have found their way into the wrong hands. Counterdrug members helped in various ways during the event.

"The task force members assisted the agents by setting up the sites," said Coleman, "assembling boxes, taping signs, setting up tables, and guiding locals to the disposal location."

The DEA hosts National Take Back Day twice a year, but has locations available throughout the year to ensure the drugs stay off the streets.