WHITESBURG – A community celebration to conclude Letcher County’s “Accidental Dealer” awareness campaign drew approximately 100 people on Thursday, May 5.

Many of those in attendance took advantage of Operation UNITE’s “Pill Dragon” – a mobile incinerator sponsored by UNITE, Eastern Kentucky PRIDE and the Kentucky Army National Guard – by turning in 7,500 unwanted or outdated pills.

Members of the Whitesburg Middle School UNITE Club performed an anti-drug program during the “Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Day” event, held at Whitesburg City Hall.

Thursday’s event was sponsored locally by the UNITED for Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Coalition members, many of whom assisted with Thursday’s event, began the Accidental Dealer campaign in January to raise awareness about the dangers posed by prescription and over-the-counter medications kept in the home.

“Proper control of personal medications reduces your risk of being a victim of a burglary or theft,” Smoot stated, adding it also “avoids the potential health and environmental effects of having these substances in our water system and soil if they are flushed down the toilet or tossed in a landfill.”

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.

Through Thursday the Pill Dragon has destroyed a total of 519,153 pills.