Residents living in southern and eastern Kentucky wishing to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medications have plenty of options at this coming Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

DSC_0005-dropbox-sidecutOver the past year, Operation UNITE has helped establish 41 permanent medication drop box sites in 34 counties. These boxes are available free to citizens during operating hours that vary by location.

In addition, special take-back sites will be available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on October 26 at Kentucky State Police Posts and other law enforcement agencies in 12 of UNITE’s counties.

“Having unsecured prescription and over-the-counter drugs around the home makes them susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse,” said Dan Smoot, director of UNITE. “We are proud to partner with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to offer easy-to-access locations for disposal of these medications.”

During the Take-Back Day event held this past April, nearly 1,200 pounds of prescription medications were collected at UNITE drop-box locations.

Residents are asked to please remove all identifying labels from prescription bottles before bringing them to the drop-off sites.

According to the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs than the number of those who regularly used cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined.

That same study revealed more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.

An August 2013 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 1 in 10 Americans admit taking a prescription drug they have not been prescribed, and a quarter of those people have used them just to get high.

“With increased abuse comes an increase in the number of overdose deaths,” Smoot said. “Unfortunately, this part of the commonwealth is being impacted the most.”

Seven of the top 10 counties with the highest rate of overdose deaths for 2011 and 2012 combined are located in southern and eastern Kentucky, according to the 2012 Overdose Fatality Report issued by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.

In 2012 there were 1,004 overdose fatalities in Kentucky – the first decline in a decade – down from 1,023 the year before. Of the deaths, 888 were unintentional, 59 were suicides and 57 remain undetermined, the report stated.

Medications, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly 60 percent of the 38,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2010, overshadowing those from illicit narcotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• For a list of permanent drop box locations in the UNITE service region visit

• For a list of permanent drop box and National Take-Back Day locations statewide visit the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy website at

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which began in October 2010, aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications. More than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of pills were removed from circulation in the first six DEA Take-Back Days.