TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - One of the fastest-growing drug problems has young people getting their stash, not from dealers, but from their home's medicine cabinet.
More than 6.2 million people over the age of 12 report abusing prescription drugs. Of those, less than five percent report getting their drugs from a stranger or a dealer.
Stormont-Vail Pharmacist Doug Pederson says the issue has led to an alarming statistic - the U.S. now sees more overdose-related deaths due to prescription drugs than cocaine and heroine combined. Pederson says the reason may be because young people looking to experiment have a false sense of security. Since they're not getting the drugs from some guy on the street corner, but from a medicine cabinet, they reason, they must be safe.
Pederson says doctors are prescribing narcotic pain medicines and other drugs more than ever, which means more of them in circulation, more chances they'll be a temptation. He says the drugs are safe when used appropriately, however, he says many people get a prescription for pain meds, take a few, then leave the rest in the cabinet where they forget about them until a nephew, niece, grandchild, or child find them.
Topeka's Medical Arts Pharmacy is among those distributing awareness pamphlets during this week's National Substance Abuse Prevention Week. Experts recommend locking up prescription drugs, taking stock of all your meds so you'll know if anything is missing, and clean out your medicine cabinet. Crushing unused drugs into cat litter is one way to properly dispose of them.
"If you're not going to take it, get rid of it," Pederson says.
Pederson says prescription drugs are addicting and they can cause a host of impairments and side effects, even leading to death. A few precautions could head off a problem before it starts.
National Family Partnership: www.nfp.org
Stormont-Vail West: 785-270-4600