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Utah County Gathers and Disposes of 1 Million Prescription Drugs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010 “enough pharmaceuticals were prescribed to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month.”  Officials say this is an issue because many of these drugs fall into the wrong hands and are being misused.

Kye Nordfelt is the coordinator for the Substance Misuse and Abuse Reduction Team (SMART), said the rate for prescription drug abuse in Utah is among one of the highest.  

“Prescription drug abuse is a problem here in Utah. In fact, more people die from prescription drug overdose than all automobile accidents combined," Nordfelt said.

The Prescription Drug Take Back program has been gathering prescription drugs since 2010 in an effort to combat the enormous amount of prescription drug abuse in Utah.

“We had a big milestone here in Utah County...We have tracked how many pills we have collected over the years and we just hit 1 million pain pills that we’ve collected,” Nordfelt said.

The Clean out the Cabinet Campaign is trying to educate residents about their prescription drugs, he said. 

“One of the main causes of prescription drug abuse is the fact that there is a lot leftover in people’s medicine cabinets,” said Nordfelt. “So, what happens is someone goes to a doctor or a dentist and they get prescribed 30 pills and they go home and take maybe one or two and they leave the rest in the medicine cabinet? Down here in Utah County alone we estimate that there are 7 million left over prescription pain pills in medicine cabinets. I mean, for me that means there are 7 million opportunities for teens to get high off of these substances.”

Prescription drug disposal sites can be located  at police departments and grocery stores like Smith’s, Macey’s, Fresh Market, and Ridley’s.

Morgan Pratt is a sophomore at Utah State University seeking a degree in Journalism and Communications.