Worthington now has one of the few permanent prescription-drug drop boxes in central Ohio.

Worthington now has one of the few permanent prescription-drug drop boxes in central Ohio.

Located in the lobby of Worthington police headquarters at 6555 Worthington-Galena Road, the box is a safe place to dispose of unwanted prescription medications 24 hours a day.

Police and drug-abuse experts urge everyone to properly dispose of unneeded medications rather than allow them to accumulate in medicine cabinets, where they could be taken by the wrong people or for the wrong reason.

The nation has an epidemic number of overdoses of prescription painkillers, according to police statistics. More Americans die from painkillers than from heroin and cocaine combined, and since 2008, prescription-drug-induced deaths have outpaced those from automobile accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

When children or young adults are in the home, it is particularly important to dispose of unnecessary drugs. After a death, family members sometimes look for a place to dispose of their prescription medications, as well.

Flushing or throwing unwanted medications in the trash are discouraged because the drugs could get into the water supply, said Sandy Byers of Drug Safe Worthington.

That organization and Worthington Mayor Harvey Minton were driving forces in establishing the drug drop box here.

"When Mayor Minton proposed the idea, I was not as enthused as I should have been," Worthington Chief of Police James Mosic said. "I didn't realize what a huge problem was caused by prescription drugs."

He also asked how the police would dispose of the drugs and how they would track them.

The drop box is locked and attached to the floor and wall of the police department lobby. It is constantly in view of police dispatchers and is monitored by a surveillance camera.

The box will be emptied periodically by an officer, who will place the drugs in the locked evidence room until they are collected by a company contracted by the city to properly dispose of them.

Drugs accepted include expired and unused medications, medication samples and pet medications. The medications must be in containers. No loose medications, needles, lancets, syringes, inhalers or liquids are accepted.