BLOOMINGTON — Central Illinoisans can do their part to control abuse of prescription drugs by participating in the 14th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday.

The twice-yearly event allows people to safely dispose of unneeded or expired prescription medicines.

The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at thousands of sites nationwide, including 14 in The Pantagraph area.

The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration effort is designed to reduce drug abuse and addiction, overdose deaths and accidental poisonings by keeping medicines away from people who shouldn't have them. A second goal is to discourage disposal of medicine by dumping it down the toilet or sink, which means the medicine could end up in the water supply.

Among agencies with a collection site is Bloomington Police Department, 305 S. East St.

"BPD feels prescription medication, which is expired or unused, is a public safety issue which can lead to abuse and accidental poisoning," Officer Elias Mendiola said. "We have found the majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from family and friends."

During each biannual drug take-back day, eight to nine boxes, or 150 pounds, of medicines have been dropped off at the Bloomington Police Department, Mendiola said. The take-back program is anonymous and free, he said.

About 6.4 million Americans age 12 and older abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among drugs being abused are opioid painkillers.

During the April take-back day, a record-high 900,386 pounds of drugs were collected at 5,498 sites nationwide. That includes 43,408 pounds collected at 146 sites in Illinois. The 13 take-back events have collected 8,103,363 pounds of drugs.

In addition to Bloomington Police Department, collection sites in The Pantagraph area (all staffed by local police) will be McLean County Sheriff's Office, 104 W. Front St., Bloomington; Normal Police Department (in partnership with Project Oz and the Youth Action Board), 100 E. Phoenix Ave.; Heyworth Village Hall, 108 S. Buchanan St.; Stanford Coffee Shop, 210 W. Main St.; El Paso Police Department, 540 E. Main St.; Clinton Police Department, 118 W. Washington St.; LeRoy City Hall, 207 S. East St.; Minier Police Department and Minier Village Hall (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), 110 W. Central St.; The Medicine Shoppe of Farmer City, 217 S. Main St.; Woodford County Sheriff's Office, 111 E. Court St., Eureka; Morton Police Department, 375 W. Birchwood St.; and Washington Police Department, 115 W. Jefferson St.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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