By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Prescription drug abuse starts at home.
That’s why state and federal leaders want people to empty their medicine cabinets of unused drugs — particularly prescription pain relievers — and bring them Saturday to one of 75 drop off sites around Kentucky.
The drop off program is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, officials said Monday at a press conference at the Franklin Public Health Department. Locations will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
In Lexington, there will be four drop off sites: Kentucky American Water Company, 2300 Richmond Road; The Walmart parking lot, 2350 Grey Lag Way; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, 1600 Man O’War Blvd.; and Lexington Police at 1165 Centre Parkway.
To find other drop-off locations in Kentucky, visit: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html.
A recent survey showed that 70 percent of teens acquired a prescription drug through a relative or friend, compared to five percent who said they received prescription drugs from a drug dealer, said Secretary for Justice and Public Safety J. Michael Brown.
By holding onto unused drugs, innocent people have become the main source of prescription drugs for addicts and abusers, Brown said.
Raiding of medicine cabinets has become so problematic that realtors are now telling people to lock their medicine cabinets during open houses, Brown said.
Frankfort Police Chief Walter Wilhoite said his agency has teamed with the DEA for two years to conduct prescription drug drop offs. Four drop off days in 2011 netted approximately 173,025 doses of medications, according to statistics provided by the Frankfort Police Department.
The drop off program will accept most types of drugs. It will not accept hazardous drugs, such as ones used in chemotherapy, radioactive materials or needles or sharp instruments.
Wilhoite said disposing of medications properly is not only a way to cut the supply of prescription drugs, but it’s also safer for the environment.
“It’s not safe to flush these down on the toilet,” said Wilhoite, noting that some medications can contaminate the water supply.
People do not need to give their names or any identifying information during the statewide drop off day, Brown said.
The drug drop off program was announced just three days after the General Assembly passed a bill aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse.
House Bill 1, passed on Friday during the last day of a five-day special legislative session, will restrict the ownership of pain clinics to physicians and require most physicians who prescribe narcotics to use the state’s electronic prescription monitoring system.
Currently, only 25 percent of all doctors access the system to check if a patient has already been prescribed an addictive drug.