SALYERSVILLE – Magoffin County nearly set a county record for pill disposal during its “Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Day” event on May 23.

The 46,349 unwanted or outdated pills brought to Operation UNITE’s “Pill Dragon” – a mobile incinerator provided in cooperation with Eastern Kentucky PRIDE and the Kentucky Army National Guard – fell just 457 pills short of the total collected in October 2010.

The Pill Dragon has now visited Magoffin County four times, consuming 130,902 pills.

“With their average of more than 33,000 pills each visit, the Magoffin ASAP/Drug-Free Communities UNITE Coalition has certainly shown their commitment to preventing these unused pills from getting into the hands of others,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE vice president and law enforcement director.

Participating in the coalition-sponsored program were the Magoffin, Johnson and Knott county sheriffs offices and the Kentucky State Police.

“Proper control of personal medications reduces your risk of being a victim of a burglary or theft,” said Smoot, 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.”

The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 55 percent of prescription drugs were obtained for non-medical use for free from a friend or relative. Another 11.4 percent bought pills from a friend or relative and 4.8 percent took the pills from a friend or relative without asking.

“With most teens turning to the family medicine cabinet for their first-time use of prescription and/or over-the-counter medications, take-back programs – such as the Pill Dragon – can have an impact on drug use in the community,” Smoot noted.

Aside from the fact that taking or giving away medicine 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 just 11 years old.

Since inception, the Pill Dragon has destroyed 916,383 pills.