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SAMHSA News - November/December 2007, Volume 15, Number 6

Campaign: Proper Disposal of
Prescription Drugs

flyer - Is Someone Misusing Your Prescription Drugs?

Educating people about safe disposal of prescription medicines, especially painkillers and sleep aids, is the focus of a new SAMHSA pilot program.

Prescription drug misuse is a growing problem. To help, SAMHSA is providing point-of-sale information sheets at more than 6,000 pharmacy counters across the Nation.

The pilot program is intended to combat the increasing abuse of prescription drugs-particularly among teens and young adults.

These information sheets highlight the need for preventing abuse of these medications and provide practical advice on how to store medication properly and dispose of unused amounts.

"This program is so important because most prescription drug abusers get these drugs through a friend or relative," said SAMHSA Administrator Terry L. Cline, Ph.D.

In fact, 55.7 percent of people age 12 and older who used pain relievers nonmedically in the past year reported that they obtained the drugs from a friend or relative for free during the most recent time of use, according to recently released results from SAMHSA's 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Although levels of illicit drug abuse among youth had declined in many areas over the past few years, the survey found that prescription drug abuse has grown significantly. The level of nonmedical use of prescription drugs among young adults increased from 5.4 percent in 2002 to 6.4 percent in 2006, due largely to an increase in the nonmedical use of pain relievers.

Educating Consumers

flyer - Keep Prescription Drugs Out of Reach

Because a high percentage of teens and young adults report that they have access to prescription drugs in family medicine cabinets, SAMHSA is focusing on teaching people how to reduce and eliminate this access.

To help educate parents and other members of the public, SAMHSA is disseminating point-of-sale information to consumers who purchase highly abused prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, select sleep aids, and oxycodone (OxyContin®).

Using new technology that automatically selects the appropriate information sheet for the medication being purchased, consumers will receive one of three information sheets on abuse prevention when they fill prescriptions for one of these drugs at pharmacies participating in the program.

Additional information on this program can be found on the SAMHSA Web site at For additional information, studies, data, and reports on prescription drug abuse, including data from the Agency's Drug Abuse Warning Network, visit SAMHSA's Web site at of Article


What Consumers Need To Know

SAMHSA's information sheets on substance abuse prevention address the following themes:

  • Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem-particularly among young adults and teens.

  • A high percentage of teens and young adults report that they can get ready access to someone else's prescription drugs from the family medicine cabinet.

  • Prescription drugs should be stored in a safe, secure place and counted regularly to help ensure that they don't get into the hands of unauthorized users.

  • Consumers should always check patient information accompanying the product to see if it contains specific directions for disposing of unused medication and should follow those instructions. If no specific directions are provided, unused medication should be discarded by mixing it with undesirable substances (e.g., old coffee grounds, used kitty litter), sealing the mixture in a container, and placing it in the trash. Whenever possible, unused medication may also be donated to authorized community take-back programs for prescription drugs. End of Article

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Inside This Issue
Preventing Suicide on College Campuses
Part 1
Part 2 - Gatekeeper Training
Part 3 - Stress Reduction
Campus Suicide Prevention Grants
Grantees List
Garrett Lee Smith's Story
Suicide Warning Signs
Administrator's Message: Making a Difference, Saving a Life

Access to Recovery: Enhancing Consumer Choice
Part 1
Part 2 - A Closer Look: Louisiana
Grant Updates
Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs
Mental Health Report to Congress
Adolescents Do What Every Day?
Employers Honored for Behavioral Health Services
Tobacco & Youth: Synar Report
Co-Occurring Disorders: Systems Integration, Epidemiology
Evidence-Based Programs
Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese: Multi-Language Initiative
Expert Consultant Appointed at CMHS
DEA Exhibit Opens in Arlington, VA
Index to 2007 Issues
Index A-D
Index E-M
Index N-R
Index S-Y


SAMHSA News - November/December 2007, Volume 15, Number 6