Operation UNITE collected and disposed of more than 1.8 tons of old, unwanted, or expired medications during the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s 25th National Prescription Take-Back Day on October 28.

The 3,691 pounds of medications turned in by UNITE – Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education, Inc. – represented 34.35 percent of Kentucky’s total of 10,745 pounds.

Since October 1, 2012, UNITE has collected 58,833.7 pounds (more than 29.41 tons) of medications – enough to cover a football field one pill deep 1.3 times.

UNITE Law Enforcement Manager Scott Bailey helps load boxes containing prescription medications following the October 28 DEA’s 25th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The DEA and its partners have been conducting prescription drug take-back days twice a year – in April and October – since 2010. Nationally, 17,900,351 pounds of medications have been collected from communities.

According to the “National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 69.9 percent of teens and young adults who report abuse of prescription medications are getting them from friends, family, and acquaintances – often stealing them from medicine cabinets.

Nearly 1 in 4 teens (23 percent) report taking a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor at least once in their lives, SAMHSA reports.

“Properly securing and disposing of your medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, is important to prevent the diversion and misuse of drugs,” said Detective Scott Bailey, Law Enforcement Manager for UNITE, who oversees the organization’s Medication Drop Box program.

In addition to preventing an accidental poisoning or overdose, proper disposal of medications protects the environment. Medications should not be flushed down the toilet, Bailey stressed, noting this can contaminate soil and water systems and may violate local laws and regulations.

Medication Drop Boxes Available Year-Round

If you missed the latest take-back day you still have options to clean out your medicine cabinet year-round.

Operation UNITE services 48 medication drop boxes in or adjacent to Operation UNITE’s 33-county service area. These boxes are available during regular business hours of the host location.

When bringing in medications for disposal, please remove all identifying labels from prescription pill bottles before depositing them in these boxes. Liquid medications, illicit drugs, and items with a needle are not accepted at these locations.