Residents across southern and eastern Kentucky brought 1,656.3 pounds of pills to drop box sites as part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s 9th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

“Operation UNITE collected unwanted or outdated drugs from each of the 42 drop box locations in our service region,” noted Dan Smoot, president of the anti-drug organization. “Combined with the take-back day held in the spring, we have been able to properly dispose of nearly 2 tons of drugs.”

“This is only a fraction of the drugs that need to be taken out of the home,” Smoot continued. “Our drop-off locations are available year-round, so we encourage citizens to bring their prescription and over-the-counter medications in to reduce the potential for their abuse and misuse.”

UNITE, the Kentucky State Police and others joined with the DEA for the take-back program. Results from other locations across Kentucky and the nation were not available as of Monday morning.

Update 10-3-14 – KSP reports collecting more than 1,100 pounds of drugs.

Proper disposal of medications is important to discourage theft or experimentation. More than two-thirds of people abusing prescription pain relievers get them through friends or relatives homes, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Increasing availability of drugs has also sparked a rise in the number of overdose deaths, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Kentucky currently has the third highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation.

Another reason for properly disposing of medications is to keep them from making their way into the water system and soil.

Citizens taking medications to a drop box are asked to remove all identifying labels from the container. Liquid products, illicit substances, and anything with a needle are not accepted.

Since October 2012, Operation UNITE has collected more than 4 tons of drugs (8,204.2 pounds) through its Drop Box program.