The West Feliciana Parish Drug and Alcohol Awareness Council hosted its inaugural Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Dec. 5 in St. Francisville.

Members of the council encouraged residents to drop off unused, expired and unwanted medications in an effort to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while educating the community about the potential for abuse of medications.

According to the council, many people are not aware that medicines languishing in home cabinets are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse.

Prescription drug abuse in the U.S. is rising at an alarming rates, as is the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to the drugs, the council said.

Many people don’t know how to properly dispose of unused medicine and often will flush them down the toilet or throw them away, which are potential safety and health hazards, said Capt. Brian Spillman, director of the Drug and Alcohol Awareness Council for the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office.

During the event, medicine ranging from expired vitamins to pain-killing narcotics were dropped off at various receptacles around the community, Spillman added.

All medications will be incinerated at a special facility designed for such disposal.

“This was our first prescription drug drop-off day ever, and I’m encouraged by the participation from the community,” Spillman said. “In all, about 6 pounds of pills were collected, which is a hefty amount, considering that most pills or tablets each weigh a fraction of a gram.”

The West Feliciana Drug and Alcohol Awareness Council plans to host more collections, at least twice annually, and will place the disposal bins in secured, public locations so residents can dispose of unwanted or expired drugs at their convenience.