The sixth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is set for Saturday.
Hosted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, in conjunction with local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies, the event provides the public with the chance to safely dispose of unwanted, unused and expired medication.
Residents can drop off items from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at participating collection site locations. To find a collection site, call (800) 882-9539, or visit: www.deadiver-sion.usdoj.gov then click on the "Got Drugs?" link.
Since the initiative's start, two events have been held each year.
"This is the first year that we're not participating," Lt. Todd Sizemore, spokesman for the Cape Coral Police Department, said Tuesday.
In August, the agency installed a standing collection bin in its lobby.
"That way people don't want to wait for amnesty day or Drug Take-Back Day," he said. "We have a bin in our lobby for people to use every day."
Sizemore called National Pre-scription Drug Take-Back Day a "great thing," but said the events are difficult to staff and require a lot of personnel. People may also get tired of waiting and improperly dispose of their medications.
"There's a danger in stockpiling them, in waiting for the day," he said.
Medications should never be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet.
"When you don't have to wait (for an event), it's better," Sizemore said.
The CCPD's lobby is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Residents can drop off their medications anonymously in the collection bin. Sizemore reported that the bin resembles a "big green post office box."
"There's directions right on it. There's pictures," he said. "It's very easy."
Prescription and over-the-counter medications, patches, ointments, vitamins, samples and even some pet medications can be placed in the bin. Bottle labels that contain any personal information can be removed.
Needles, syringes, inhalers and aerosol cans are not accepted.
"It's really about convenience and giving people a safe option to drop off," Sizemore said.
The bin is emptied every week.
"We log it, account for it and destroy it," he said of the deposits.
As of Tuesday, the Fort Myers Police Department and Lee County Port Authority Police Department were signed up to participate Saturday.
According to the DEA, approximately 244 tons - 488,395 pounds - of prescription medications were collected nationwide in the last event. More than 2 million pounds - about 1,018 tons - since the initiative's start.
The service is free and anonymous - no questions asked.
A 2011 national survey found that more than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs.
More than 70 percent of pain reliever abusers got them through friends and relatives, including raiding the family medicine cabinet.
The Cape Coral Police Department is at 1100 Cultural Park Blvd.