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Prescription pain pills tumble from container.Over the past several years, the United States has seen unprecedented levels of drug overdoses and deaths from overdoses. While most people may assume that illegal drugs are behind this disturbing trend, this isn’t entirely correct.

Prescription painkillers, particularly those made from opioids, are the primary cause of accidental death by drug overdose in the U.S.

It’s imperative for citizens of Tennessee to understand this danger and the measures in place to protect the public. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, our state is ranked third in the country for prescription drug abuse. An estimated 5% of Tennesseans have used pain relievers in the past year for non-medical purposes. Over 70% of people who use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons got them from a friend or relative.

Proper Disposal

Whenever you finish a round of prescription medication, it’s important to carefully dispose of any leftovers. Some people believe that flushing extra pills down the toilet or rinsing them down a sink drain is an acceptable way to ensure they aren’t abused, but this practice can contaminate the local water supply. Additionally, simply throwing out medications can have disastrous consequences as well. Prescription bottles sometimes include personal patient information, and other people may find the leftover medication in the trash.

If you want to dispose of your unused medications yourself, mix the medication with some sort of waste like used coffee grounds. You can also mix them with a small amount of water so they start dissolving. You can then throw the ruined pills away with your other household trash. Many states have started prescription medication disposal initiatives as well. You can find special locking medication disposal boxes around Nashville and other areas of Tennessee.

Confronting Addiction

Many people hold negative views of addiction, but the reality is that most people who develop drug addictions don’t choose to start down this path. One of the most dangerous aspects of prescription medications, especially opioid painkillers, is that patients often assume they are safe because they were prescribed by a doctor and not purchased off the street. Doctors who prescribe painkillers need to thoroughly explain the risks and warning signs of addiction so patients can quickly assess when the time has come to seek help.

Drug addiction carries many negative social stigmas, but substance abuse treatment and methods have evolved tremendously over the years. The first step in overcoming a substance abuse problem is acknowledging the problem exists. If you find yourself or a loved one in this situation, it’s important to put any embarrassment aside and seek treatment as soon as possible. Opioid addiction is extremely powerful and entails potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Addressing the problem sooner rather than later greatly reduces the impact an addiction could have on your life.