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Gloria McClendon, left, Safety Committee Chair for the East Chattanooga Improvement, Inc., takes information posters outside with Chattanooga Police Lt. Brian Cotter, a volunteer, announcing a Drug Take Back Day in this file photo.

The Drug Enforcement Administration wants people to stop throwing prescription medications in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, so it's holding a national Drug Take Back day this weekend.

The goal is to keep drugs out of the environment and away from people who misuse them, Signal Mountain police Detective Jim Tizzio said.

Local sties for medication drop-off

Local residents are encouraged to drop off their old medications — prescriptions or over-the-counter — for proper disposal at one of the 14 Hamilton County area locations. Sites in bold will have document shredders available for personal documents such as tax information or medical records:

Locations in Hamilton County
Walgreens in Hixson, 5478 TN Highway 153
› Walgreens in East Ridge, 5301 Ringgold Road
› Walgreens in East Brainerd, 2289 Gunbarrel Road
› Walgreens in Northshore, 110 North Market St.
› Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, 4801 Highway 58
› Elk’s Lodge #91, 1069 Graysville Road
› First Baptist Church, 506 E. Eighth St.
› Food City in Red Bank, 3901 Dayton Boulevard
› Orchard Knob Baptist Church, 1734 E. Third St.
› Signal Mountain Police Department, 1111 Ridgeway Ave.
› Walgreens in Brainerd, 3605 Brainerd Road
› Walgreens in Ooltewah, 9307 County Highway
› Walgreens in Soddy-Daisy, 121 Harrison Lane
› Walgreens in St. Elmo, 3550 Broad St.

Some 6.4 million Americans abuse controlled prescription drugs, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Improperly discarded drugs also end up in landfills or are flushed down toilets and end up in the water system, Tizzio said.

To encourage people to properly dispose of their drugs, the DEA's 15th annual drug take back event will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

The Chattanooga area has 14 drop-off locations where people can anonymously leave their old prescription or over-the-counter medication — no questions asked. Just scratch off the name before leaving the container.

Participants don't even have to exit their cars. They can drive to a location, hand the medication out the window to the person manning the site, and drive off.

Five sites also will include document shredders provided by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Division of Consumer Affairs.

Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church is participating for the first time this year. Other dropoff locations include several Walgreens pharmacies, Food City in Red Bank, and First Baptist Church on East Eighth Street.

"With medication, if you throw away pills in the trash, most likely your trash will be gone through, and kids looking know people throw medication out like that or small children can get hold of it," Tizzio said.

In a news release, Gov. Bill Haslam encouraged Tennesseans to take part.

"All of us can play a part in reducing opioid addiction by safely and securely disposing of the expired or unwanted medications in our homes," Haslam said. "Preventing medication sharing and pill diversion are two effective steps citizens can take to impact Tennessee's opioid crisis, and through events like this, we are bringing awareness to the prescription drop box resource."

Prescription drug drop boxes are available year-round at locations across the state, including police departments, sheriff's offices, and an increasing number of pharmacies. For a complete list, visit https://bit.ly/2r0KhUM.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6431.

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