SOMERVILLE, NJ - Somerset County Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano is singing the praises of county residents who embraced the many medicine-drop opportunities offered throughout the year.

To date, the Somerset County Sheriff's Officehas taken in 2,725 pounds of prescription medications through the Sheriff's Office drop boxes and special "take-back" events, such as drive-through events and special events hosted at senior centers across the county.

"The Somerset County community has consistently stepped up and taken a proactive approach toward protecting the environment and their loved ones," said Provenzano. "The success of these programs is a testament to their commitment.

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"We can't thank our residents enough for taking the time to periodically purge medications from around their homes. Since the inception of the program in 2010, close to 10,352 pounds have been dropped off for proper disposal."

Provenzano said with this collection he hopes to reduce the use of prescription drugs by individuals who aren't prescribed the medication they're using. 

"According to a national study, 70 percent of people who reported using prescription drugs for non-medical use in the past year got those medicines from a home medicine cabinet, friend or relative," he said. "Thanks to our residents' enthusiastic efforts, the incidence of this happening has been reduced substantially in our county."

Drop-off events prevent unused or expired medications from being flushed down toilets and sinks or discarded in landfills, which can lead to potential contamination of groundwater and/or wastewater treatment plants. They also keep drugs out of the hands of people susceptible to substance abuse, and prevent accidental poisoning by children.

In addition to scheduled drop-off events, residents wishing to dispose of medications year-round can do so by dropping them off at the sheriff's office medicine collection drop box, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The drop box is located in the lower level of the Somerset County Administration Building at 20 Grove St. in Somerville, near the entrance to the sheriff's office.

"Drug-collection programs, which are free and anonymous with no questions asked, have proved to be a huge success in Somerset County," said Provenzano.

For more information regarding medicine collection in Somerset County, contact Lt. Steve SanAntonio at (908) 231-7168, Sheriff's Officer Nick Fazio at (908) 231-7140, Ext. 9 or visit http://bit.ly/SCMedsDrop.