Expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs may be dangerous to ingest and could contaminate water supplies if they’re discarded down a drain or in the garbage. They also have become the most abused substances after marijuana and alcohol, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

To properly dispose of potentially harmful unused and unwanted drugs, the University of Central Florida will sponsor a drop-off site Thursday, Sept. 27, in the John T. Washington Center Breezeway.

UCF Health Services and the Police Department will accept the medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from anyone at UCF and the community. The service is anonymous, so no questions will be asked, organizers said.

About 35 pounds of medicines – such as Adderall, Ritalin, antibiotics, Tylenol, vitamins, cough syrup and others – were dropped off last October when UCF held its first drug take-back day, said Megan Pabian, Health Services’ coordinator of university relations and public affairs. Some people even brought in expired medications for pets.

“It’s a good thing to get into the practice of cleaning out your medicine cabinet once a year,” Pabian said, adding that people last year brought in shoeboxes and bags full of medicines. “We had medicines dropped off that expired in the ’80s. You really don’t want that stuff in your house.” If any medications are dropped off with labels, they are either removed or blacked out, she said.

The drug take-back day is overseen by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which last year accepted 276 tons of expired medications at drop-off sites around the country. In the four years the DEA has conducted the program, 775 tons of drugs have been collected.

The DEA shreds and then incinerates the medications to keep them out of water supplies and landfills.

Pabian said the program also addresses a vital public safety and public health issue: prescription-drug abuse. Medicines that are needlessly kept in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse, she said. Each year there are reported accidental poisonings and overdoses due to improperly stored drugs.

There is a common misconception that over-the-counter drugs are safer than illegal drugs, but that’s only true when they are taken as prescribed and for the purpose intended, Pabian said.

Studies also show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends.

For additional information about the program, contact Pabian at 407-823-2643.