SOMERSET (November 1, 2012) – Keeping expired or unwanted medications in your home can unknowingly make you a contributor to this area’s drug problem, Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers said Wednesday at the dedication of a new medication drop box located at the Somerset Mall.

Speaking outside the Somerset Police Department Substation, Rogers noted that most teenagers who try pain relievers for the first time say they get them from family members or friends.

“Take away their temptation,” Rogers said, by safely disposing of over-the-counter and prescription medications. “Spread the word. Make sure people understand why it is important to do this.”

The medication drop box was provided by the Pulaski County UNITE Coalition in partnership with the Somerset Police Department.

Somerset Acting Police Chief Doug Nelson noted the box would be available to the public from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, with hours extended to 9 p.m. from December 1 through mid-January.

Nelson said many older citizens come to the mall to walk, and he hoped they would bring their medications by and share the message with their friends and family members.

Among those on hand for Wednesday’s ceremony were City Council members Pat Bourne, Donna Hunley and Linda Stringer; Operation UNITE Director Karen Kelly and Law Enforcement Director Dan Smoot; Pulaski County UNITE Coalition Chair Dale Kirby, Vice-Chair Nick Bradley, and Transformation Team member Joe Cox; and City Attorney Carrie Wiese.

Unintentional drug poisoning is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with one person dying from a drug overdose every 19 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, 82 Kentuckians a month died as a result of drugs – more deaths than from motor vehicle crashes.

In southern and eastern Kentucky, the average age of first-time drug use is 11 – below both state and national averages, Smoot said.

“We need to help keep kids from being addicted,” said Smoot. “Having a place to safely dispose of your medications is one way to prevent that.”

In addition, Smoot noted that having unsecured prescription or over-the-counter medications in your home increases the likelihood you will become a victim of a break-in or theft.

Those wishing to drop off their medications should remove all labels with identifying names, addresses and prescription numbers from the bottles.

In addition to the Somerset Mall, medication drop boxes are available at the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office in the courthouse downtown and at the 911 Dispatch Center on U.S. 27 at Stoplight 3.