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Feds: New Yorkers give back 55,146 pounds of prescription drugs

A $350,000 grant from the state Department of

A $350,000 grant from the state Department of Health announced Monday, April 20, 2015, will increase the number of drug drop-off locations and expand take-back programs on Long Island and the rest of the state to keep people from flushing pharmaceuticals down the drain. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

The public handed in 55,146 pounds of expired or unwanted prescription drugs in New York State last Saturday during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, federal officials said Friday.

That was 55 percent more than in September during the previous take-back day, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said. Nationally, 742,497 pounds were collected a week ago, a 50 percent increase over September.

Statistics for Nassau and Suffolk counties were not immediately available.

A 2011 survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives -- "a statistic that included raiding the family medicine cabinet," the DEA said in a statement.

There have been six collections since the take-back program began more than two years ago, the agency said. In New York, more than 400 locations were staffed by federal, state and local enforcement agencies.

"Not unlike the rest of the country, we are seeing record levels of prescription pill addiction on Long Island," said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "Every unused capsule or tablet . . . that is safely disposed of, limits the risk of misuse." --

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