The Rockland Police Department and Rockland District Nursing Association will host a collection of unwanted medications on Friday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Rockland City Hall’s council chambers. This is the first such collection to be held in Knox County.

This event is meant to address the growing prevalence of unwanted and expired medications in the community, and their impact on public health, safety and the environment.

Maine ranks number one in the country for prescription drug related crime per capita involving break-ins, assaults, murders, and robberies, according to a news release from the Rockland agencies. In 2008, Maine had 168 drug related deaths. Of those, 155 deaths (92 percent) were caused by accidental or intentional abuse of prescription drugs, exceeding the deaths from car accidents during the same time period. Medications now show up in drinking water sources and natural habitats, adversely affecting the water supply and environment.

Residents in the communities served by the Rockland District Nursing Association (Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head, St. George, Cushing, Warren and Union) may bring old, unused and/or expired prescriptions for disposal. Sharps or inhalers will not be accepted. The service is free and confidential. Medications are to be left in their original bottles, with only the patient’s name crossed out. Since the cost of disposal is high for this type of waste, capacity is limited.

Event partners include the Knox County Community Health Coalition, Pen Bay Healthcare, Penquis, and the Midcoast Public Health District. These partners, many community volunteers, the Rockland Police Department and the Rockland District Nursing Association recognize this collection of unwanted medications as the next necessary step to remove excess medications from homes, the community and the streets, according to the news release.

Donations to help defray the disposal costs may be sent to the Rockland District Nursing Association, P.O. Box 1713, Rockland, ME 04841.