On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Darien Health Department, in conjunction with the Darien Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, will give the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Residents can bring medications for disposal to the Darien transfer station on Ledge Road. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last September, Americans turned in 242,000 pounds -- 121 tons -- of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement partners, Darien Health Department Director David A. Knauf said in a press release.

The initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, Knauf said.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States 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, Knauf said.

In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines -- flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash -- both pose potential safety and health hazards he said.

Following are some guidelines to follow before bringing the medicines to the disposal site:

Leave the meds in the original containers.

Block out any personal identifying information.

Never flush meds down the toilet.

Items such as needles or hazardous materials will not be accepted.

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