As part of a nationwide effort to prevent medication abuse and rid homes of unwanted and unnecessary prescription drugs, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) is supporting the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The event is taking place on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29.

"Taking medications after they expire is ineffective and may even be dangerous," said Dr. Nina Taggart, BCNEPA's vice president of clinical operations and Chief Medical Officer. "We at Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania are helping to raise awareness about Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day because it is a convenient and responsible way to dispose of expired and unused drugs."

The DEA and local law enforcement will have more than 30 locations across northeastern and north central Pennsylvania available on Saturday, Sept. 29, for the public to drop off unwanted prescription drugs.

The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Locally, drugs may be dropped off at the Summit Hill Police Department, 40 W. Amidon St., Summit Hill; Slatington Police Department, 125. S. Walnut St., Slatington; and Schuylkill County Sheriff's Office, 320 Board St., Tamaqua.

More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2010 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And the Partnership for a Drug-Free America also reports that one in five teenagers will have abused prescription painkillers by their senior year of high school.

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Plus, the usual methods of disposing of unused medicines - flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash - pose safety, health and environmental hazards.

DEA previously conducted National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days in April and October of 2011 and April of 2012. Nationwide, nearly 1.5 million pounds of unwanted and expired medications have been removed from circulation through these previous events.