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Alexandria police collect unwanted prescriptions

People drop off prescriptions safe disposal at the police headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Alexandria police offered the community a safe way to get rid of unwanted, old or expired prescription drugs Saturday.

Residents could drop off their prescriptions at Alexandria’s police headquarters on Wheeler Avenue, one of 4,700 drop off sites for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. As part of the free event, attendees could drop off prescriptions for safe disposal and go on their way — no questions asked.

“I think it’s really great because then you don’t get it in the water supply or in the ground water,” said Betty Wells, referring to prescriptions that wind up getting flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash.

Connie West, who works as a civilian for the Alexandria Police Department, had a collection of old prescriptions from his late wife.

“I had a lot of medications I didn’t know what to do with,” he said.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury-related death in the country. In the U.S., more people die this way than from guns or car accidents. The U.S. is currently suffering from an epidemic of addiction, overdoses and death because of prescription drugs — especially opioid painkillers, the DEA said in a news release.

Fatal prescription opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, according to figures from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Allen Lomax with the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria said these drug take back days are even more important in light of the epidemic.

Nearly 450 tons of prescription drugs were collected across the U.S. during the last take back day, which was held in April.

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