As part of Over-the-Counter Awareness Week, through Sunday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department will be collecting expired and unused pharmaceutical drugs at two local elementary schools this week.

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs pose many risks. Their abuse is the biggest drug problem facing youths. Young people often get their drugs from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets.

The elderly are also at risk of accidentally taking expired medications or creating potentially lethal combinations. Improper disposal also can threaten the water supply when medications are flushed down the drain.

Sheriff’s D.A.R.E. officers will be at La Patera School, 555 N. La Patera Lane in Goleta, from 2:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Wednesday and at Joe Nightengale Elementary, 255 Winter Road in Orcutt, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to collect unused and expired drugs.

They will also provide information regarding how to protect young people from over-the-counter drug abuse.

For those who can’t make either event, Operation Medicine Cabinet drop boxes are available at every sheriff’s substation in Santa Barbara County.

— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.