Utah Raising Awareness of Prescription Drug Safety

Sep 28, 2012

According to the FDA, one way to properly dispose of pills is to seal them in a plastic bag with used coffee grounds.

"On December 5th, my life changed in a way that I would've never imagined."

Angie Watson lost her 13-year-old son, Connor, on that day.

"He spent the next few hours texting his friends in his bedroom, and the last text he sent to one of his friends said he was going to take a couple of pills and go to sleep. I know he had no idea when he took those pills that he wouldn't be waking up the next morning."

The tragic story comes from a public service announcement at useonlyasdirected.org, a website aimed at tackling prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse is a particularly pressing matter in Utah. The state ranks fourth in the country in deaths from prescription drug overdoses.

Elizabeth Sollis of the Utah Department of Human Services says prescription drugs are so often abused because they’re legal.

"Most people who are taking prescription medication start out with legitimate reasons for taking them, and unfortunately they move from a place of dependence to a place of addiction."

Sollis stresses that anyone can fall prey to abusing prescriptions.

"Anyone can fall victim to prescription drug abuse, and that is why it is so important that everyone is aware of safe use, storage, and disposal."

Since losing her son Connor to prescription pills, Watson has been very active in raising awareness about the dangers of misused pharmaceuticals. She is featured on the Use Only As Directed website, and is participating this week with Sollis in the Fall Substance Abuse Conference in St. George. Above all, Watson wants people to know that abusing drugs does not make someone a bad person.

"Connor was a great kid, and it's not that other people's kids aren't great. It's not that the other kids that are using, or the adults that are experimenting with them, that they're not good people—because they are. I just want people to understand that it can happen to anyone."

National Drug Take-Back Day is September 29th (Saturday). Instructions for how to properly dispose of medication, and other information, can be found at useonlyasdirected.org.