Licking County residents will have the opportunity to participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day - a service sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration - from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

Licking County residents will have the opportunity to participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day - a service sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration - from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

Kristin McCloud, executive director of Newark's Pathways of Central Ohio, said prescription drug abuse is "a huge, huge problem" across the state and nation. Pathways of Central Ohio is one of the local sponsors of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Some of the abuse takes place, she said, because people don't know how to dispose of unused prescription drugs properly and they can fall into the wrong hands. She said the number of deaths, including children and young adults, from prescription drug abuse is increasing.

Three Licking County drive-thru, drop-off locations are at the Heath DFW Furniture parking lot, 725 Hebron Road; the Newark Division of Police, 39 S. Fourth St; and the Pataskala Police Department, 430 West Main St.

Johnstown Police Lt. Josh Boudinot said the Johnstown department is not part of the program.

McCloud said Johnstown residents' closest drop-off points are Pataskala or the OhioHealth Westerville Medical Campus at 300 Polaris Parkway. Another option is the Kroger store at 300 S. Hamilton Road.

"We don't care where people take it," McCloud said, adding that drop-off locations are not competing to collect the unneeded prescription drugs.

McCloud said the service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

Residents are asked not to bring liquids, needles or mercury. Residents can leave the pills in their bottles but they should remove labels or black out any identifying information.

Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds, or 188.5 tons, of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners. In its three previous National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events, the DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds of pills.

Residents who participate April 28 but would still like to dispose of drugs safely can drop off unused prescription drugs at new permanent locations at the Newark and Pataskala police departments and the Licking County Sheriff's Office, McCloud said.