A permanent drug collection box installed at the Atlantic County Criminal Court Complex last month has already yielded a total of 88 pounds of drugs, Atlantic County Sheriff Frank X. Balles announced Tuesday.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey awarded the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office with the box last month. It is located in the vestibule of the criminal court complex, which is open to the public from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Atlantic City's drug collection box was installed in the city's Public Safety Building in Oct. 2012 and has collected 297 pounds of drugs to date, Lt. James Sarkos said. Atlantic City's drop-off is available at all hours because the police station is always open. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled prescription drug use an epidemic, as more than 40 people die each day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives. 

Braden Campbell and Lynda Cohen