Bangor police and the Penobscot County Sheriff's office held a drug take-back day event Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, in the Airport Mall parking lot. Credit: Eesha Penharkar

The Bangor Police Department and Penobscot County Sheriff’s office joined forces Friday to hold a drug takeback day, offering area residents a safe way to dispose of old or unused medication.

Representatives from both organizations were planning to be at the Airport Mall parking lot on Union Street in Bangor from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

A shredding truck is also available at the Bangor site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, so people can dispose of bills, files or sensitive information for free.

The event is part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Takeback Day, which is Saturday. The nationwide effort is aimed at preventing the misuse of prescription drugs.

Some 6.2 million Americans had misused prescription drugs from home medicine cabinets, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The event at sites across the country allows residents to dispose of their unwanted medication for free while maintaining anonymity.

As of 11 a.m. Friday morning, Officer Dan Gastia of the Bangor Police Department estimated that up to 100 vehicles had dropped off old medicine or papers to be shredded.

Tammy Smith, a Bangor resident, drove to the mall parking lot on Friday morning to drop off expired medicine and old papers. “It’s a great opportunity to get rid of old medicine safely,” she said.

“It’s much better to drop medicines off here than to flush them down the toilet or throw them in the trash,” said Chief Deputy William Birch from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s office. “It’s also better for the environment.”

Once the drugs are collected, they’re securely transported to Brewer. From there, the drugs are taken to southern Maine to be incinerated, Gastia said.

“The event is always successful regardless of how many people come,” Gastia said, “because it’s getting unnecessary drugs off the street.”

Look up a drug takeback site near you on the DEA’s website.

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