Today, area law enforcement officials will be collecting old or unused prescription drugs from anyone looking to clean out their medicine cabinets.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Take Back Day for today, and some area police and sheriff’s offices will be participating.

Now in its 17th year, Take Back Day is about helping Americans dispose of their unused or expired medications in a safe way. The effort helps reduce the risk of people getting poisoned and prevent medications polluting the environment, endangering animals and water supplies.

“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” a DEA news release says. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuses, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.”

So far, the program has been a huge success, with Americans turning in almost 11 million pounds (5,500 tons) of pills in its first 16 years, according to the release.

Last year alone, more than 900,000 pounds (nearly 460 tons) of prescription drugs were surrendered at more than 5,800 sites operated by the DEA, and another 4,800 of its state and local enforcement partners.

Today, area police departments and sheriff’s offices plan to set up at various drop-off locations around the region.

The Winchester and Frederick County Sheriff’s Offices will collect old prescriptions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at:

The Frederick County Public Safety Building, 1080 Coverstone Drive, Winchester

The Courthouse, 5 N. Kent St., Winchester

Rotz Pharmacy, 1338 Amherst St.

CVS, 840 Berryville Ave.

Walgreens, 131 Valley Mill Road

In Shenandoah County, police and Sheriff’s Office deputies will be stationed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at:

Strasburg Police Department, 174 E. King St., Strasburg, in the side parking lot

CVS, 221 W. Reservoir Road, Woodstock, at the parking lot facing Reservoir Road

Walmart, 461 W. Reservoir Road, near the front entrance

In Warren County, the Sheriff’s Office will be collecting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Valley Health Rehabilitation Services, 120 North Commerce Ave., Front Royal

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Contact Josette Keelor at