BOONEVILLE – Operation UNITE’s “Pill Dragon” destroyed 5,674 pills brought in as part of the “Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Day” program held at the Owsley Action Team Building in Booneville Wednesday, June 29.

The Pill Dragon – a mobile incinerator provided in cooperation with Eastern Kentucky PRIDE and the Kentucky Army National Guard – was sponsored by the Owsley County Anti-Drug Council.

Council members have been raising awareness about the dangers posed by prescription and over-the-counter medications kept in the home through an “Accidental Dealer” campaign since January.

“Proper control of personal medications reduces your risk of being a victim of a burglary or theft,” said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for UNITE, 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 Wednesday the Pill Dragon has destroyed a total of 182,730 pills in 35 appearances.