PAINTSVILLE – An effort to raise awareness about the dangers posed by prescription and over-the-counter medications kept in the home will conclude with a free “Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Day” program on Thursday, March 31.

Citizens are urged to bring all unused, unwanted or out-of-date medicines to the Paintsville Recreation Center on Preston Street between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. There is no cost.

All pills will be fed to UNITE’s “Pill Dragon,” a mobile incinerator sponsored by UNITE, Eastern Kentucky PRIDE and the Kentucky Army National Guard.

The Pill Dragon is designed to keep medications from being disposed of in landfills or by flushing them down the toilet. Both methods have the potential to harm the environment.

Ridding the home of unneeded medications also reduces the potential for theft and experimentation with drugs.

Some studies have shown that 90 percent of teens that try prescription drugs for the first time turn to the family medicine cabinet or to a friend’s family for prescription and over-the-counter medications – making them an Accidental Dealer.

Aside from the fact that taking or giving away medicine that is not prescribed to you is illegal, even at small doses the potential exists for serious health effects – including death. This is especially worrisome in southern and eastern Kentucky, where the average age of first-time use is age 11.