In an effort to curb prescription drug abuse and protect the environment, more than 700 hundred citizens gathered in St. Louis Park on Saturday for Hennepin County's first ever unwanted medicine collection.
The event, organized by the county and Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, was scheduled to coincide with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's national "Drug Takeback Day."
Officials said they hope to raise awareness about the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. Residents dropped off unwanted controlled substances, such as Oxycodone, Vicodin and Codeine, which were then delivered to hazardous waste incinerators for disposal.
The sheriff's office said they collected tens of thousands of pills.
Studies have shown that seven of the top 10 abused substances among young people are pharmaceuticals. Forty percent of teens believe that prescription medicines are "much safer" than illegal drugs. Teens usually find the drugs in the medicine cabinets of friends and family.
Officials said the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals is an environmental concerns, as well. Drugs that have been flushed down the drain or disposed of in landfills can contaminate bodies of water, harm wildlife and end up in drinking water supplies.
Citizens who missed the event but are still seeking more information regarding medication disposal can visit www.hennepin.us/medicine or call Hennepin County Environmental Services at 612-348-3777.