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Preventing Prescription Medication Misuse and Abuse

UTAH COUNTY, UTAH (October 28, 2013) -- Thanks to a huge community response, over 1 million pain pills have been collected and safely disposed of in Utah County since 2010.

Last Saturday, the Substance Misuse and Abuse Reduction Team (SMART) Coalition, local law enforcement, and other partners took unused pain medication at collection sites throughout the valley. "Prescription pain medications are very helpful when used properly," said Kye Nordfelt, SMART Coordinator. "However, many times individuals have 'left overs' that just sit in medicine cabinets. These run the risk of being misused and abused. By cleaning out the cabinet, we are reducing the temptation and risk." Nordfelt said people can still dispose of medications by taking them to their local law enforcement office. "Many police and sherrif statiosn have drop off bins, where people can safely dispose of them." He suggested people look to www.UseOnlyAsDirected.org or call 801-851-7181 for details.

Take Back Event photo

"People shouldn't flush them down the toilet, as this can contaminate our lakes and streams, but there are other home disposal methods described on the web site," said Nordfelt.

The take back events are part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back efforts coordinated through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Local communities across the nation hosted over 4,000 disposal sites.

Prescription drug overdoses are the number one cause of injury deaths in Utah, killing more people each year than car crashes. In Utah County, nine percent of residents over 18 have admitted to using medication to manage pain in a way that was not intended by their doctor. Utah has one of the highest rates of pain pill abuse in the nation. Leftover, unsecured pain pills in home cabinets are contributing to these problems.

"We are grateful to all the local law enforcement agencies who host an event in their city. Without law enforcement support, these events would not occur," said Nordfelt. "We also appreciate the support of volunteers and local businesses like Smith's, Macey's, Fresh Market, Ridley's, and Payson's Market and cities like Eagle Mountain, Salem, and Springville, said Nordfelt.

SMART (Substance Misuse and Abuse Reduction Team) is a drug prevention coalition with 45 volunteers. Our mission is to prevent prescription pain pill and alcohol abuse. To find out more call 801-851-7181, email kyen@utahcounty.gov, see our website at www.smartutahcounty.info, or follow us at www.facebook.com/smart.utah.