Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Next to alcohol and marijuana, the most common illegal drugs teens are using to get high are prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. A survey of teens ages 13-18 conducted by the Berrien County Substance Abuse Prevention Services in 2011 found that:

  • 33% of teens had taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription during the past 30 days.
  • 45% of teens reported that it would be “very easy” to get a prescription drug.
  • 40% of teens reported that if they wanted to get a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription, they would get it from “family members.”
  • 14% of teens reported that there is “no risk” in harming themselves if they used a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor.

Drug Abuse Statistics

According to a report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2008:

  • 1 in 5 teens has abused prescription drugs.
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing someone who abuse prescription drugs.
  • 1 in 3 teens surveyed said there is “nothing wrong” when using prescription drugs ‘”every once and a while”
  • 8 out of 10 teens get prescription drugs from friends or relatives by stealing, buying or simply asking for them.


What you can do to help prevent your child or others from misusing prescription and OTC drugs:

  • Do an inventory of the contents of your medicine cabinets, bureau tops, or anywhere in your house where you may store medicines.
  • Lock up or secure your medicines.
  • If you currently need medications, secure them in a place where you can get to them easily, but where children are unlikely to look, not in the bathroom cabinet.
  • Monitor the pill quantities and medicine levels in your prescription and OTC drug containers.
  • If drugs in your home are left over from a previous condition or ailment, dispose of them safely.

Where to Dispose of Prescription Drugs & Medical Waste

You can dispose of old and unneeded prescription medications at one of several MedReturn Drug Collection Units that are found throughout Berrien County. The medications may be dropped off with no questions asked and are open for disposal during regular business hours Monday through Friday. The medications should be placed in a sealable plastic bag or can be disposed of in their original containers.

MedReturn Drug Collection Unit Locations (PDF)

Rx Disposal and Home Medical Waste Collections are held each year throughout the months of April through October in Berrien County where unused/outdated pills, liquid medication, medical sharps/needles, medical aerosols and patches can be disposed of properly. It is important for parents and grandparents to take a regular inventory of the contents of medicine cabinets, bureau tops or anywhere in the house where medicines may be stored so they are less accessible to teens.