Times-Tribune Staff Report
UNITE partnered with the Laurel County Sheriff’s office Tuesday to collect and ensure proper disposal of medications by providing a “Drop Box” in the front lobby of the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, according to Laurel County Sheriff John Root.
The box was presented by Dan Smoot, president and law enforcement director for Operation UNITE.
“Providing opportunities for citizens to get rid of their outdated or unwanted medications in a safe and responsible way is the goal of UNITE’s Drop Box initiative. Ecery county in our region has at least one permanent drop-off site that can be used year-round. We hope more and more people will take advantage of this service because getting these pills out of the medicine cabinet will help reduce the potential for their abuse and misuse,” Smoot said.
Operation UNITE has helped establish or maintain 42 permanent medication drop box sites in 34 counties that are available free to citizens during operating hours.
According to the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers received them through friends or relatives. According to Root, this statistic includes raiding the family medicine cabinet. The same study also found that twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs than the number of those who regularly used cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined.
A report released earlier this month by the Trust for America’s Health Foundation found that Kentucky had the third highest mortality rate of prescription drug overdoses in 2010–23.6 per 100,000– with the number of all drug overdose deaths more than quadrupling since 1999 (4.9 per 100,000). Nationally, the rate has doubled, with 50 people dying from a prescription drug overdose every day.
The drop-box program also protects the environment, Root said. For years, the generally accepted method of disposing of old or leftover medications was to flush them down the toilet. However, this has been strongly discouraged because of concerns about potential health and environmental effects of antibiotics, hormones, painkillers, depressants, and stimulants making their way into the soil and water system.
The DEA will be conducting their next Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 26.
For a list of permanent drop box locations in the UNITE service region, visit operationunite.org and click on the link to “Med Drop Box Sites.”
For a list of permanent drop box locations statewide, visit the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy website at odcp.ky.gov and click on the tab for “Kentucky Prescription Drug Disposal Sites.”