By Noah Bond
SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - If you store old prescriptions at home you could be feeding Utah's growing drug abuse problem. Prescription drug abuse is up more than 400 percent in the last 10 years, according to Utah State Health Department public information officer Tom Hudachko.
We're warned not to flush old medicine down the toilet, but many abusers get the drugs from the medicine cabinets of family and friends.
Two men recovering from prescription drug abuse at the Journey Healing Centers agreed to tell their stories. We're concealing their identities to protect them.
Nearly two decades of painful addiction started at 12-years-old when his father gave him a prescription pain killer for his headache. "I liked the way it made me feel," said the former prescription drug abuse addict.
The good feeling led to stealing from his parents’ medicine cabinet and later from extended family. "We'd go to grand parents or aunts and uncles and I would start looking in medicine cabinets and finding most people left a lot of their pain killers in the bathrooms," he continued.
Another man said his near fatal addition started in college after a long board crash. An injured wrist and back required prescription pain killers. Six months later he was hooked. "I'd wake up in the morning and feel that I’d have to take two pain killers just to get out of bed," a second man said.
Again the medicine cabinet became another way to get a quick fix. "Did they notice the medicine was missing?" asked ABC 4's Noah Bond. "No I refilled it with another similar looking pill actually," he replied.
Both men are sharing their painful path to addiction to warn others to lock up or dispose old prescriptions. "I'd strongly advise to throw them away. There are centers where you can actually take your medications to dispose of it properly," said the man who found his addiction in college.
Incineration is the only way to properly dispose of prescription medications. It takes 3000 degrees fahrenheit to prevent the chemicals from contaminating the ground water.
The Midvale Police Department is hosting a prescription disposal day at Hillcrest High School April 24. Everyone is welcome to drop off old medicine.