Utah battles overdose deaths with "prescription drug take-back day"

Utah health officials hope the DEA's Prescription Drug Take-Back event helps reduce the number of deaths linked to prescription drugs. Photo courtesy U.S. Army.

SALT LAKE CITY – Hundreds of people die from drug overdoses each year in Utah, according to state health officials who are counting on this Saturday’s <a href=”http://www.takebackyourmeds.org/dea-events” target=”parent”>National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day</a> to help the state lower those numbers. 

Elizabeth Sollis, communications director at the Utah Department of Human Services, says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency program provides drop off points throughout the state for prescription and over-the-counter medications.

“We want to make sure if people have pain medications, antidepressants – anything that other people might try to abuse – we want to get that out of those cabinets if they’re no longer being used or if they’re expired, and into a proper disposal location,” she explains.

According to the state Health Department, about 300 deaths in Utah are linked to prescription drugs every year. The majority of fatal overdoses involve opioid drugs, such as Oxycontin and Percocet. 

Sollis says removing drugs from the medicine cabinet helps to eliminate a major source of narcotics for illicit drug users.

“A lot of times it’s our friends and family,” she points out. “So, I think the one important thing for people to bear in mind is that, no matter who you think you can trust, unfortunately the potential for addiction can happen to anybody.”

The drug take-back locations are set up at Smith’s stores, as well as police and fire stations across the state. 

They’re operated by law enforcement personnel, who are trained to safely handle controlled substances.

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