In a nationwide effort to prevent medication abuse and rid homes of unwanted and unnecessary prescription drugs, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) is again supporting the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, taking place on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"Taking medications after they expire is ineffective and may even be dangerous," said Leo M. Hartz, MD, MHM, vice president and interim chief medical officer for BCNEPA. "Over time, the chemical makeup and potency of drugs can change, posing a health and safety risk. Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is a convenient and responsible way to dispose of expired and unused drugs, and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is proud to support this effort."

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 reports that each day, approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time.

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

A study by the Journal of Pediatrics reports a 30 percent increase in emergency room visits for children under age 5 due to medication poisoning for the period 2001 to 2008. In addition, it's advised that usual methods of disposing unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – pose potential safety, health and environmental hazards.

For the second time this year, the DEA will have more than 30 locations across northeastern and north central Pennsylvania available on Saturday, Oct. 29, for the public to drop off unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Visit one of the following local cites: Pennsylvania State Police, 5730 Interchange Road, Lehighton; Summit Hill Police Department, 40 W. Amidon St., Ste. 1, Summit Hill; Slatington Police Department, 125 S. Walnut St.; Walnutport Police Department; or see the website at www.dea.gov [1], click on the "Got Drugs?" banner and enter your Zip code.

DEA, in conjunction with law enforcement agencies throughout the country, previously conducted National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days in September 2010 and April 2011. Nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies participated, collecting more than 309 tons of pills.