By Cleve Bryan

GLOUCESTER TWP, NJ – As the official event expired at 2 p.m., officers at the Gloucester Township Police Headquarters looked over the day’s haul: two thigh-high boxes full of unwanted medicine.

“Getting those opioids out of the cabinets,” explains Cpl Jennifer McLaughlin.

Saturday was the 15th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day where people turned in expired and unused drugs from their home medicine cabinets.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration this weekend there were more than 5,600 collection sites manned by almost 4,500 partner law enforcement agencies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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The event is held twice a year and during the last event in the fall the DEA collected nearly a million pounds of drugs.

“Prescription drug addiction is just as devastating as heroin addiction,” says John Bellan, a substance abuse counselor at Victory Bay Recovery Center.

He works with a program in Gloucester Twp called project SAVE (Substance Abuse Victimization Effort) that support addicts and their families.

Managing his own recovery for the last 13 years from prescription drug addiction, Bellan stresses the harm that popping pills for the wrong reasons can do.

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“It’s something that will come and take over your life and when it does it’s not just the drug that keeps you using, it’s the shame that’s wrapped up when you’re using as well,” says Bellan.

While the event is now over, most police departments have medicine drop off boxes where you can safely and anonymously dispose of prescription drugs anytime.

To learn more about the Drug Take Back Initiative visit and where to drop off medicine visit the DEA office website.

And to learn more about Project SAVE.