Atlantic County residents have a new place to drop off their old prescription drugs.

The Atlantic County Sheriff's Office received a permanent collection box from Actavis and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey that allows people to dispose of unused, unwanted and expired medication.

The box is in the vestibule of the Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, and is accessible weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those who want to come in before 8 a.m. can let officers know why they're there, since the courthouse doesn't open to the public until 8 a.m.

"The goal of this community-based public health initiative is to inform families of the importance of disposing excess medicines, because they can be a danger lurking in the family home, and provide a safe, convenient and legal option for their disposal," explained Angelo Valente, chief executive officer for the American Medical Chest Challenge.

"Actavis is proud to partner with the American Medicine Chest Challenge to raise awareness and educate consumers about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, and to underscore the importance of properly disposing of unused medications," said Paul Bisaro, chairman and CEO of Actavis.

"Everyone wants to be a 'perfect parent,'" Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles said. "Here is an easy and convenient way to protect your family from accidental overdose or teenage temptations."

The AMCC challenges families to take the Five-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:

•Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine.

•Secure your medicine chest.

•Dispose of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.

•Take your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.

•Talk to your children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

More than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such overdoses have more than tripled in the past decade.

About 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, and there has been a 400 percent increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for people abusing prescription drugs, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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