Families across Arkansas are gathering for Thanksgiving to give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us this year. But as we all give thanks, many conversations turn to family news, which often includes our recent ailments or upcoming doctor appointments. Unfortunately, many children and teens listen closely to these conversations and they hear an opportunity to get their hands on “safe” medications prescribed by doctors.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released today’s consumer alert to remind Arkansas families of the prescription drug abuse epidemic in our state and to offer ways they can protect their loves ones by properly storing and disposing of prescription medication.
“Many teens have easy access to prescriptions from the family medicine cabinet and believe these pills are safe because they are prescribed by a doctor,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But the prescriptions are written for a different family member, and it is dangerous to take them for non-medical use. These drugs are very addictive and can be a gateway to even more dangerous drugs, such as heroin.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for parents and family members to protect access to prescription medications:
- Get educated on the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse at MayoClinic.org.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of taking medication that is prescribed to someone else.
- Maintain a pill count as a monitoring method to know if any pills have been taken.
- Keep medications in a secure, out-of-reach location that limits accessibility.
- Clean out expired medications from cabinets and drawers and make plans to visit a local drug drop-off location.
- Do not flush medication down the toilet or pour down the drain because it can pollute water supplies.
- Research prescription drug drop-off locations at ARTakeBack.org.
Nearly 44,000 people die from drug overdoses each year, with more than half of those because of abuse of prescription drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports 5.5 percent of Arkansans over age 12 have used prescription drugs for non-medical use, with the most often abused drug being painkillers. Meanwhile, a study from the University of Texas reports 62 percent of teens who use prescription drugs use because they are easy to obtain from family medicine cabinets.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director have drop-off locations for Arkansans to drop off any unused prescription medications with no questions asked. The medications will then be disposed of in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
Earlier this month Attorney General Rutledge partnered with the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the Criminal Justice Institute to host the annual Prescription Drug Abuse Summit in which participants learned about more research and strategies to fight prescription drug misuse and abuse.
For consumer-related questions, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.