Rx Drug Abuse Prevention

Prescription drugs are the fifth most abused substance in the United States. A 2018 survey of high schoolers in Berrien County by the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth found: 

  • 1 in 10 high schoolers had taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription during the past 30 days.
  • 1 in 5 teens reported that if they wanted to get a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription, they would get if from a family member.
  • 1 in 8 high schoolers were offered, sold or given an illegal drug on school property by someone during the past 12 months.

According to the 2021 Youth Behavioral Risk Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12% of Michigan high schoolers have reported misusing a prescription pain killer at some point in their life. 


We all have a part to play in preventing prescription drug abuse. Here are steps you can take to prevent children, teens and other individuals in your life from abusing prescription and over-the-counter medication: 

  • Properly dispose of expired and unused prescription medication at a safe disposal site. This lowers the risk of anyone besides the person the medication was prescribed to using it and can in turn limit the risk of addition or an overdose.  
  • Do an inventory of the contents of your medicine cabinets, dresser, night stand or anywhere in your house where you may store medicines. 
  • Secure your medications in a place where children, teens and other individuals cannot easily access them. 
  • Monitor the pill quantities and medicine levels in your prescription and OTC drug containers

Additionally, it is important for parents and trusted adults to speak to children about safe use of prescription drugs before they are exposed to social pressures. We recommend starting the conversation with your child as early as age 10. You can find tips for starting the conversation at any age at TalkSooner.org. This is a resource dedicated to helping Michigan parents open the doors of communication with their children specifically on the topic of prescription and other drug misuse. 

Research also shows that children and teens whose parents are engaged and hands-on in their day-to-day lives are much less likely to misuse prescription drugs and/or opioids. Here are some simple things ways to stay in touch with your kids:

  • Spend time with your kids by having dinner with them at least once or twice a week. Make it mandatory!
  • Relax with them while watching a movie.
  • Talk to them about their friends and interests. Know who their friends are and how involved their parents/guardians are.
  • Supervise your children and their activities.
  • Establish standards of behavior. Tell your children what is expected of them in your home.
  • Set positive examples of healthy medication use. 


You can dispose of old and unneeded prescription medication at one of several safe disposal sites located throughout Berrien County. Check the specific location site for drop-off times and accepted materials. The medications should be disposed of in their original containers or a sealable plastic bag. 

Additionally, Drug Take Back events are hosted twice to give community members additional opportunities to safely dispose of medications. These events are typically held in April and October. To learn more and find a take back site near you, visit dea.gov/takebackday

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