Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse

In 2012, 90 percent of overdose deaths in Mississippi were caused by prescription drugs, and most were accidental. Proper storage and disposal of medications can prevent injuries and deaths from drug abuse and drug overdoses.

Prescription abuse is: taking any medication prescribed for someone else; or taking a higher dosage or in a manner than has not been prescribed.

Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic, killing over 300 Americans each week. Overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers have quadrupled since 1999 and now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined. In 2009, drug poisoning deaths surpassed traffic-related crashes as the leading cause of injury death in the United States.

Who Is at Risk

  • Men ages 25 to 54 have the highest numbers of prescription drug overdoses, and are about twice as likely to die from an overdose than women. CDC
  • Prescription drug abuse by women is rapidly rising. About 18 women die each day from prescription painkiller overdoses. CDC
  • Prescription drug abuse in women can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in newborns. CDC
  • Children visit emergency departments twice as often for medication poisoning than for poisonings from household products. Pediatrics
  • Adults and teens in rural counties are about twice as likely to overdose on prescription drugs than people living in cities. CDC
  • Youth are at higher risk for all forms of drug misuse. One in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime. DrugFree.org
  • Teens’ ease of access to prescription medicines in the home is a key factor in drug misuse and abuse. DrugFree.org
  • Soldiers and veterans surviving serious injuries are at increased risk for abuse of prescription painkillers. JAMA
  • Overuse of prescription painkillers for occupational injuries is becoming an epidemic in workers’ compensation systems. ACOEM

What You Can Do

Nationally, almost 70 percent of people who abused prescription drugs say they got them from a family member or friend. Proper prescription drug disposal ensures that drugs won't fall into the hands of those they can hurt the most.

  • Painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drug. If you are taking pain medication, develop a pain management plan with your doctor to make sure you're receiving the right amount of pain medication.
  • Always store prescription drugs securely, and not easily accessed by others. Keep track of quantities, and keep the drugs in a locked medicine cabinet if possible.
  • Properly dispose of medications once treatment is completed. Check the label or patient information guide for disposal instructions. Your pharmacist can also tell you about safe drug drop-off locations to dispose of leftover medications.

What Mississippi Is Doing: The Prescription Monitoring Program

The Mississippi Prescription Monitoring Program is an electronic tracking program managed by the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy to help practitioners and medical dispensers identify possible inappropriate use of controlled substance drugs and other designated medications. The online service supplies a patient’s controlled substance prescription history and information about the prescriber and dispenser. This program supports the legitimate use of controlled substances while helping to safeguard public health and safety.



State agencies and organizations

National organizations

Best practices

Additional links

Our free newsletter includes monthly disease updates: 
This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.
Last reviewed on Jan 10, 2014
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U web@HealthyMS.com
Facebook Twitter RSS