Utah ranks 4th in the nation for prescription drug abuse and that abuse kills more Utahns each year than car accidents do. The problem is not limited to Utah, given that 48 million Americans have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. The problem is widespread but there is a campaign in Utah to curb abuses.
The website Use Only As Directed is aimed at identifying the problem and detailing ways to address the situation. The site outlines the problem in this way:
Currently, the number one growing concern in Utah is non-medical use of prescription pain medications, due to their easy availability. According to the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), more than one-third of Utahns had received a prescription for pain medication. Many of these people keep their leftover medication, which can be a risk for misuse, abuse and unintended poisoning. Also, 90% reported obtaining a prescription pain medication, without a doctor’s prescription, from a friend or family member. The most recent 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports an estimated 5.3 million persons used pain relievers non-medically in the surveyed month.
The following is offered for safe use of prescription pain medications:
Never take prescription pain medication that is not prescribed to you.
Never take prescription pain medication more often or than in higher doses than prescribed.
Never drink alcohol while taking prescription pain medications.
Never share your prescription pain medications with anyone.
Taking prescription pain medications with other depressants such as sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, or cold medications can be dangerous.
Properly dispose of all expired and used prescription pain medications.
Tell your healthcare provider about ALL medicines and supplements you take.
Safe storage while you have prescription pain medication is key:
- Store prescription pain medications out of reach.
- Keep track of your prescription pain medications at all times.
- Keep prescription pain medications in original containers, with labels and safety caps in place.
- Keep track of how many pills you have been prescribed and how many you have taken so you know if any are missing.
- Dispose of all unused and expired prescription pain medications properly.
For tips on how and where to safely dispose of prescription pain medications generally and in Utah specifically, click here.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.